Tony is a fascinating guy who gets the mHealth opportunity better than I (his 101 year old grandmother uses an iPad) and as a result it’s quite a fast paced interview that when combined with my foreign accent is going to make it practically incomprehensible to most audiences so I’ve added the full transcript below.
I think the need for a transcript is interesting because it highlights a couple of things that I’ve noticed are also at play when patients consult with healthcare professionals:
1) It highlights the value of documentation to help make sense of a meeting eg. because this interview was recorded we can now quickly make up a transcript to make up for my obvious lack of verbal communication talents.
There are thankfully very few Doctors who have communication skills that are as unrefined/poor as mine but many patients face language barriers and/or are meeting with Doctors who are very busy when they themselves are very stressed and the topics they discuss are all too often about subjects that are complex, sensitive, specialised and unfamiliar.
2) We know that many patients are recording their Doctors surreptitiously because Doctors aren’t always agreeable to recordings being made even though most patients now have recording abilities on their mobiles and they value the ability to replay the advice they were given. Obviously apart from being unfair to the Doctor (who isn’t being informed that they are being recorded) this isn’t optimal from a record keeping perspective and I hope that the transcript below highlights how much better a written record can be than just a simple recording.
To help make the point you will see I’ve added hyperlinks and images but even without these it’s easy to see that the data the video provides can be much more effectively recorded, stored and shared now that it’s digitally recorded (eg. a reader can now review it at a time/place and on any device that suits them, they can cut and paste it to get a translation, an explanation, conduct personalised research, etc, etc). Until we’re at a time when voice can be automatically converted to text I think documentation will continue to beat recordings hands down.
David: Very well Tony
Tony: Excellent it’s a fabulous conference that’s obviously grown in size…
David: Oh yeah, we’re so proud to once again be media partners for the event, we’ve done our best to promote this over the years and the contribution this event is making to adoption and awareness of mHealth is so critical for this industry.
Tony: So clearly you and I said when 3 years ago you were attending this event you’ve seen so much growth factor that has gone on and you’ve been a true leader actually in mobile health so let’s explain the product and then we’ll go into some of the nuances
David: The product is called 3G Doctor and it’s simply a service that works like this: you go on our website 3G Doctor, pay £35 and for that you get a documented consultation with one of our Doctors.
First you complete a questionnaire, it’s an interactive questionnaire that takes from you your important history and information and then at the end provides you with a free text box. That’s where you can share information like a website or a youtube video and essentially then what happens is a Doctor reads that information and reviews it before calling you. So they get their chance to do their research which is so important when you’re looking at helping patients and working with them on the informational opportunities that they have today.
Then what happens is the Doctor gives you a video call, consults you on your problem, and then provides for you a summary review and full documentation which comes to you in a report that you can print off, send to your Doctor or present at a pharmacist or use just to open dialogue really in what may be a difficult conversation with your family Doctor.
Tony: So I want to bring up a point you said off camera about a number of years ago when a particular Doctor criticised the company in a paper.
David: yes, what happened was we launched this service in the UK and Ireland and a newspaper which is now bankrupt, they had to shut the press as their money didn’t work out, but the newspaper did a review of us and said that we really like this idea but they then went and contacted one of the professional organisations that represents Doctors and the head of that organisation came forward and said ‘well the Doctors behind this are great people, there’s nothing wrong with them, but all this service can offer you as a patient is convenience’.
Tony: ha ha ha, I love that, that that’s the criticism, I wouldn’t want to be ‘convenient’ for anybody…
David: So what i did was, well people were ringing me up saying they’re having a go at you, all you are is convenient and I said wait till you see the T-Shirt I’m getting made… so I had this beautiful T-Shirt made with a blue triangle and it says we apologise profusely for all the convenience caused…
Tony: I love it who wants to be convenient, listen, one of the great things is you’re working all the time and there’s something you want to have a consult about you don’t want to spend a ton of hours in an emergency (room) and you can do it at your convenience, Friday at home, 6 o’clock, do it, get it done.
David: Well I believe from my background in studying medicine, the preventative opportunity is lost because it’s so inconvenient.
Tony: Right, that’s very true
David: So it doesn’t get off the starter blocks. Putting a Doctor in your pocket is how we start talking with people who (for example) have come back from Afghanistan and…
Tony: How long have you had the pain in your hand? I guess about a month now, I just don’t know…
David: Well you look at these guys who are out in Afghanistan and they’re coming back after working hard, representing their country and then they come back and are going to pretend they are sick because they’re suffering from depression?? A lot of these guys bottle this stuff up…
David: …and aren’t talking about it because it’s too inconvenient, and whenever they do go to a clinic environment they have to sit in a waiting room with other people who they can see look unhealthier than them. (What if) there’s nothing (outwardly) wrong with you, it’s a mental problem
Tony: Nobody wants to be judged in public
Tony: Well that’s very fair
David: Well the great thing is coming on here (points to 3G Doctor on Samsung Galaxy Tab) they can get their (documentation) so for a young person who doesn’t have a family Doctor relationship what this can do is help them create one.
Tony: So available to anybody around the globe?
David: No, only the UK and Ireland at the moment but we’re launching here in the US. Over on our (exhibition booth) stand you can meet with Dr Chris Bickford MD who is helping us launch the service in the USA and is doing live calls on these fantastic Samsung Galaxy Tablets and can show you what a HD video call looks like on the T Mobile network.
Tony: Nice, fantastic
David: You’ve got the technology here now, why aren’t we using this with patients?
Tony: Absolutely there is no question about it and the carriers are doing a great job embracing and creating departments within all of their organisations to tackle the mHealth initiatives and there’s no question that HIMSS and the mHealth Summit have done their part in making sure, you can see here (pointing to the bustling exhibition floor) just the sheer expansion of what’s going on. So what are we going to see here from 3G Doctor in the future?
David: Well everything in this hall is a connected care experience that is going to have to work in an unsupported environment. We saw that this market would be created a number of years ago and we built a solution that would provide that supported care environment for (what would otherwise be) remote unsupported care environments.
David: So if I’ve got an iPhone ECG and I’m using it at home and I’m a consumer who do I got to? (click here to read notes on our experiences with the Alivecor ECG – a device that has recently gained FDA and CE certification). Do I go to my normal Doctor? Do I bring this? …a lady was talking today about how she went to her Doctor and tried to get him to look at trend lines on an application on her Samsung Galaxy… and (to me) that’s the wrong way. The banks that win awards for online banking, these banks haven’t got business models where they have a face to face business (eg. click here to read all about the customer service awards that First Direct has picked up in the UK) but everyone (today) in healthcare is just office based.
Tony: That’s very true, absolutely
David: So who’s going to come in and do this? It’s such a disruptive and different environment that you need someone specialised in it. And so we are hyper-specialised in working with patients on informational opportunities.
In the Uk and Ireland we don’t give prescriptions and Doctors sometimes find that very challenging, they say ‘what you don’t give (prescriptions)?’ Because all they are trained to do is to do things.
David: ‘Do things’. And often what we’re trying to work with are patients who have seen a Doctor, seen a Specialist, and have watched maybe a pharma sponsored advert and now want to ask about that.
David: Now do they want to go to their specialist paediatrician and say ‘er Tony I want to ask you about this little problem here’ and what then? Are we going to then watch a YouTube video together in your office?
Tony: I don’t think so
David: So what’s going to happen is an informational Doctor can come in and say ‘look some of that info is a load of rubbish, you don’t want to go to your paediatrician with that’.
Tony: Are the Doctors able to write prescriptions?
David: They can, there’s no reason why we can’t but we don’t.
David: The whole ethos of our business is that we want to be like your Uncle or Auntie who is a Doctor. Do you have any family who are Doctors?
Tony: I have 2
David: So you’ll know if you ever go to a Christmas party and meet them and you say I’ve got this thing, well they don’t go and write you a prescription out of the boot (the name Europeans have for a ‘Trunk’) of their car. They give you a note and they say give that to your Doctor.
It’s not much, maybe two bullet points and something else, maybe (a) note to query this, but when you go to your (family) Doctor
and you hand it to them they say ‘hey he’s got an uncle who’s a Doctor’ well what we’re doing is exactly the same thing but it’s better documented and more accurate and for people who don’t have that experience (an accessible relative who is a Doctor)
Tony: That’s completely fair, I completely understand where you are coming from
David: So that’s our whole ethos in the way we work. So everything we do is decided by that single factor, we want to be like your Uncle or Aunty who is a Doctor.
Tony: If you’re not careful you might just make the world a healthier place…
David: Thank you very much Tony
Tony: David Thank you very much for taking the opportunity to speak with us I hope we get a chance to get an update in the future…
David: Join us in Dublin for the eHealth Week, it’s the HIMSS event that’s coming to Dublin.
Tony: No question, everyone out there knows that BNetTV loves Dublin, so no problem on that…
David: In May!
Tony: On that I’ve been speaking with Mr David Doherty of 3G Doctor here at the mHealth Summit in Washington DC for 2012, I’m Tony Sklar with BNetTV