Kevin Clauson, Director of the Center for Consumer Health Informatics Research at the Nova Southern University, has shared an interesting slide deck from his presentation at the annual meeting of the Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacists that looks at the opportunities to help patients make sense of the mHealth market:
A very impressive 77 slide deck chock full of profiles of interesting mHealth companies. Ones I noticed include:
Apple App Store, Bant App, Bedsider, CVS Pharmacy (MyCVS On the Go), Doctor Mole Skin Cancer App for Android, Drugs.com Pill Reminder App, EndoGoddess iPhone App (“Powered by eProximity and DuetHealth”), FitBit, Florida Hospital ER Wait Times (iPhone App), Genentech (iPhone App), Glowcaps, Glucose Buddy, Google Play Store, Happtique, iBGStar, iCondom, MemoText, Microsoft HealthVault, PillBoxie, Quest Diagnostics (Gazelle), Runkeeper iPhone App, Text4Baby, WallGreens Mobile (Text Alerts), WebMD (iPhone App) and Withings.
Kevin presents a possible definition of mHealth that I’ve noticed has been used in the past by the mHealth Alliance:
“mHealth is the use of mobile devices and global networks to deliver health services and information”
Compared to the definition I favor (that mHealth is the leverage of Mobile – the newest mass media – for Health) I think Kevin’s alternative has several short comings:
“AND”: In many key mHealth examples we don’t see the use of mobile devices AND global networks. For example many don’t use the network at all (eg. rich medical text book content that’s side loaded via a SD card) whilst others don’t use the device at all (eg. predictive network technologies).
“Mobile Devices”: I feel this presents a limitation to mHealth that will become increasingly obvious as we witness the rapid growth of M2M tech connecting things which aren’t meant to be mobile (eg. smoke/CO, care monitors, weighing scales, etc) or would be confusing if we started to refer to it as a “mobile device” (eg. an implantable device, a stretcher, talking bathroom scales, etc).
“Global Networks“: I feel this presents a limitation to mHealth that will increase as we see mobile devices increasingly connecting to local networks and the healthcare market is a leader in innovations in this area eg. the virtual GSM network at University College London Hospital in the UK, the WiFi device-to-mobile connection of a Withings weigh scale, the low power connection of a Alivecor ECG case, etc.
I’m surprised to see so much weight being given to what surveyed consumers might want to do rather than what patients are already doing. I think the slidedeck could be improved by the addition of some mHealth market success stories eg. the incredible rate of adoption of Kaiser Permanente’s mHealth services by patients (KP is the first major healthcare brand to take a mobile first strategy).
I’ve commented on this inaccurate reporting of mHealth statistics by Pew analysts before. It’s flawed because it’s based on the idea that an app is not an app if it’s not downloaded. Many apps are increasingly “native” (eg. preinstalled on the device so they work out of the box) and when you realise this you realise that app use is much greater eg. it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t use the SMS app (mobile network operators now use this to send notifications to customers so even those who dont’ actively use SMS already use it albeit in a read only manner), at least 50% use the camera app, etc.
This slide amplifies the error carried forward that we get from making the presumption that it’s only downloadable apps that are important and that a health app is easily recognisable eg. in my experience you are more likely to find an adult aged 50+ using their native calendar or alarm app to get a reminder for a Doctor appointment or to take a medication, or visiting a healthcare information website as you would be able to find a 18-29 year old downloading a specific health app.
This will also become increasingly significant as we see strategies from the big smartphone manufacturers to take mHealth apps native eg. Samsung with S Health.
It’s worth noting that Kevin is clearly aware of this eg. in Slide 26 (above) he correctly recognises YouTube to be a “Health App”
Surely there can be no mention of the mHealth relevance of HealthVault in North America without a reference to the partnership with Canadian telco giant Telus?
Still very positive to see the work of app developers who have developed for HealthVault being profiled eg. the diabetes management app “Bant”.
I find it surprising that there is no mention in the entire slidedeck of Doctors sharing video content with patients.
Great to see the potential downsides getting a mention and while I’m sure there’s not space for an exhaustive list I’m surprised that there’s no mention of advertising as it tops the bill of concerns that I hear talked about by healthcare professionals who are engaging with their patients via mobile.
Anything else I’d have liked to have seen?
Considering this was an audience of Pharmacists I think it would have been good to remind them that mobile has already killed their business model, that it’s important to adapt to survive and that this opportunity is greatest when you move into the space that might just kill you if you don’t eg. Apple launching the iPhone despite the threat it presented to it’s lucrative iPod business, IBM selling off it’s PC business, etc