The time to innovate with mHealth is now

I often hear some version of the phrase “Yeah but you don’t understand it’s so complicated we just can’t do that” from medics when they try to justify their reasons for not moving beyond the office visit only model and it really bugs me because the vacuum left by their inactivity is enabling a growing number of convenient health services that are operated by businesses that are much more about making profits than providing care.

This week I read a couple of news items that I think will help Rural Community Pharmacists and GPs realise the need to make the change before things get a lot worse for them personally:

Rural Community Pharmacists:

Political leaders don’t understand what you do and are so deluded they actually think you can be replaced with an App:

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The global Pharmacy giants that the politicians are hoping will deliver them this rosy future (and who have already made billions from sales through their mHealth apps) are doing plenty of things that would concern Patients/Carers eg. Walgreens (parent company of Boots) fell hook line and sinker for Theranos (backing it with their reputation and a $140 Million investment) and the boss at Lloyds Pharmacy (owned by McKesson) has paid the online retail giant Amazon to put a recording device in the companies HQ boardroom

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This week I read in the Australian Doctor that Dr Aifric Boylan (an Irish Locum GP who felt forced to emigrate to Australia after feeling “very uncertain about my future career security” and “mentally exhausted by the burden of debt which we saw little prospect of ever repaying”) has started an online service that offers to remotely provide one of the most complex and valuable roles a Family Doctor offers (direct referrals to a range of specialists).

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We live in times of great change and there’s clearly a need to urgently modernise medical education and ensure that the GP career is viable as an unfortunate side effect is that medics will approach innovative ways of doing their job only once they’re financially vulnerable and more vulnerable to being pressurised to nickel and dime things in ways that might be very profitable despite being obviously “controversial and confronting” and possibly dangerous for Patients.

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The end of Smartphone innovation or is it?

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I think this The End of Smartphone Innovation post by Benedict Evans will confuse lots of people as to the opportunity we still have in Mobile. (HatTip: @Bart)

mHealth Insight

I think the key thing to understand is that Augmented Reality (AR) is the next (8th) mass media and you can do lots of it on the 7th Mass Media. Tomi Ahonen was the first to think up and explain this:

Once you appreciate AR as the next mass media it becomes quite obvious that smartphone innovation isn’t going to end just as innovation in PCs didn’t end back in 1995 when I got my first Mobile phone or innovation in TVs didn’t end when the Internet was invented – as presumably if it had your TV would still look like this natty Sony CRT one from 1989:

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So what do I think will happen?

Every year analysts will get headlines by predicting the end of a period innovation in smartphones.

Every economically viable adult on the planet is getting a smartphone and mobile technology is getting increasingly embedded into devices that we all use.

We’re going to do lots of AR with our Smartphones and SIRI/GoogleNow enabled hearing aides that we will look back at and think ‘how did I ever live without that?’.


AR will arrive and it will totally transform the concept of privacy. Everyone you ever meet will be able to identify you and do things that will make you feel very uncomfortable such as detect/diagnose things about your health. It will make the idea of going to visit a Doctor who is a stranger unthinkable.

If you want to prosper in this future you need to start exercising your imagination so go out and invest in your future today by treating yourself to the latest Smartphone and hand up your old one to someone who hasn’t got one yet because most of us aren’t using even 10% of the potential of the smartphones that are already in our pockets (many of us aren’t even being allowed to!) something that became clear to my colleague five years ago when together we watched this amazing guy in an Apple store repair a SpaceX engineers iPhone (watch this video of Joseph Danowsky showing David Pogue how he uses his iPhone to get the idea and imagine what happens when the sound is reaching the user via a comfortable silicon device that’s invisibly lodged in the ear)…

Blind Apple Store Salesman fixing a technical problem for a Space X Engineer

Related Posts:

Does Tim Cook have plans to define this decade by making “iPhone” synonymous with “mHealth”? (March 2015)

Apple CEO thinks mHealth revenues will dwarf the $Trillion Smartphone market (August 2016)

Communities Dominate Brands: Augmented Reality Reached 3 Billion Dollars in Annual Revenues, Powered by Pokemon Go,  Augmented Reality will be the next mass media. (@TomiAhonen March 2017)

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Scam Block: a neat Mobile Operator innovation from T-Mobile that will help Patients


The mobile operators and their trade organisation have proved themselves to be spectacularly clueless when it comes to understanding the big mHealth opportunities but I think this caller ID checking Scam Block service introduced by T-Mobile is a very positive move.

It’s in no way going to prevent all attempts (eg. concerted manual efforts to scam specific Patients who identify themselves through online review sites etc are probably not going to be effected as they’re done on an individual basis rather than by robocallers) but Patients are very vulnerable as so many EHR databases (containing telephone numbers) have been hacked and there’s enormous scope for tech like this to be expanded to also end fraudulent practices like caller ID spoofing.

For a start wouldn’t it be great if the customer could with a simple swipe redirect the call to a roboanswer service run by T-Mobile to collect intelligence on scams and waste scammer time.

T-Mobile Introduces New Network Technology to Protect Customers from Phone Scams

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Mobile updates to the 4ooo year history of Medicine

2001 BC Here, eat this root.
1000 AD That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
1850 AD That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
1920 AD That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
1945 AD That pill is ineffective. Here, take this penicillin.
1955 AD Oops… bugs mutated. Here, take this tetracycline.
1960-1999 AD 39 more “oops”… Here, take this more powerful antibiotic.
2000 AD The bugs have won! Here, eat this root.
2010 AD Call or SMS. Failing that Google It.
2020 AD Let your iPhone take care of it.

The History of Medicine. HatTip: @DrAliLynTan

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Can mHeath apps do for medication adherence what Map apps do for getting about?

Walgreens Apple Watch Reminder App

“If you think about the brain as a muscle, then certain activities, like learning maps of London’s streets, are like bodybuilding,” he (Hugo Spiers) says, “and all we can really say from our new findings is that you’re not working out these particular bits of the brain when you’re relying on SatNav.”

Research published Tuesday in Nature Communications reveals two distinct brain regions become inactive when people follow SatNav instructions instead of using their spatial memories.

mHealth Insights

I’ve been using and researching the use of mHealth medication reminder apps for over a decade (long before the Apple AppStore was launched when most Patients/Carers just used the native calendar/alarm apps and Nokia execs were surprised to find that their obscure Wellness App was proving a hit with Patients and getting >100,000 downloads/month) and think we’ll probably find something similar (but more desirable) is happening.

I see no reason to wait for any more evidence to be published before we make it a compulsory  requirement for medications to be complemented by mHealth apps but perhaps the reason we are seeing benefits is because it’s simply less taxing on your brain when our mobiles provide discrete reminders/nudges and this makes it less stressful for us to follow medication regimes?

Related Posts:

Irish Health Service Executive hits Lloyds Pharmacy with allegations of fraud & breach of contract for success of their mHealth service (Aug 2015)

Walgreens CMO shares insights on what it took to create the USA’s most popular mHealth app & mHealth revenues of $375M per month (April 2014)

How long before Mobiles make Med Reminders smart? (April 2013)

‘most women have already figured how to set reminders with the calendar/alarm functionality on even basic mobiles’ (May 2011)

Why aren’t all Healthcare providers using SMS appointment reminders? (Feb 2011)

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Mobile is cannibalising the world eating up everything

“Its now twenty years from the first fixed-mobile service bundle which launched the whole revolution of digital convergence centered around mobile. There had been digital convergence prior to mobile already on the fixed-landline-internet side but digital convergence without mobile would be… pretty pointless by now. Anything we now look at, from Big Data to IoT to Augmented Reality to Cloud Computing etc is dependent on a mobile convergence element. So lets take a stroll back through recent mobile tech history and see how we got here and where we are now going…
…It does not mean ‘only mobile’ but it means always including mobile. Then we hear from WPP (world’s largest advertising group) and their China head who say in China all advertising is mobile-first but if you don’t have a big budget, you go mobile-only. (Wow?).
…mobile took a company that didn’t know HOW it might make money, an obscure search-engine internet company, and powered it to become the second most valuable company on the planet in barely more than 10 years since they uttered the words ‘the internet will go mobile’….   
…This is how I see the future unfold as well. Mobile is cannibalizing the world eating up everything. But doing things better, easier, faster. Doing things previously not possible. And then we get a new opportunity that comes up for mobile, what happens? Mobile. Always. Wins”

Twenty Years of Digital Convergence Around Mobile: What can we learn from the Cannibal of Cannibals?

In this great post the world’s #1 Mobile Industry guru Tomi Ahonen nails the reasons why the big opportunities for healthcare are and will be in Mobile (and the convergence of technologies to Mobile).

Related Posts:

It’s no longer sales as usual for medical device firms when Patients shop in the Apple Store for devices that are better & less expensive than what Hospitals are prescribing… (March 2017)

Will established medical device manufacturers become more than iPhone accessory brands before the mHealth decade is out? (Jan 2017)

Here’s why ‘Mobile’ should be your NY2016 resolution (Jan 2016)

Digital Health: “that must cost a bomb” (Nov 2016)

2000-2009 the “Nokia Decade” …but why should it stop there? (Jan 2010)

How will IoT impact healthcare? An interview with David Doherty (April 2016)

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Google apologises for paying ad revenue to rape apologists & racists but says nothing to the 1.6 Million NHS Patients who didn’t consent to sharing their Hospital records

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Google has apologised to advertisers for paying ad revenue to rape apologists & racists but has said nothing to the 1.6 Million Patients who had their NHS Health Records copied by the American Technology company without consent:

“In July 2015, clinicians from British public hospitals within the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust approached Google DeepMind Technologies Limited, an artificial intelligence company with no experience in providing healthcare services, about developing soft- ware using patient data from the Trust. Four months later, on 18 November 2015, sensitive medical data on millions of Royal Free’s patients started flowing into third-party servers contracted by Google to process data on behalf of DeepMind”

Note: The vast majority of these 1.6 million Patients will have never had access to these NHS records.

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Join us at the 5G World Futurist Summit, 13-15 June at ExCel London

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The Futurist Summit at this years 5G World meeting in London is focused on ‘Evolution and disruption: Anticipating the impacts of 5G networks’ and is held on the 15th June 2017 at Excel London (part of 5G World which is the major event of London Tech Week).

“The faster, more responsive, more pervasive wireless coverage of 5G networks will provide the backdrop for breakthrough changes in numerous industries. In this summit, futurists will help audience members to anticipate scenarios for the convergence of evolutionary (incremental) and revolutionary (disruptive) trends over the next 5-8 years. Which areas of pent-up demand will be better served by 5G networks? Which new working methods will become practical? And what risks should be borne in mind? You’ll hear about transformation opportunities that deserve greater attention in the industries of healthcare, education, construction, agriculture, and finance”


David Wood, London Futurists (Chair of the Futurist Summit): Anticipating the elephants on the 5G roadmap

David Doherty, 3G Doctor: Better networks for better healthcare from 3G to 5G Doctor?

Kirill Makharinsky, CEO, Enki: Better networks for better education,a  revolution in mobile learning

Tony Shooter, Chair for Technology, COMiT: Better networks for better construction,

Steve Slater, IS Operations, Wates Group: Improving collaboration in construction

Will Wells, CEO, Hummingbird Technologies: Better networks for better agriculture. The future of precision farming

Anish Mohammed, Lead Security Architect, HSBC: Better networks for better financial services:  Blockchain and 5G for Finance: hype vs reality

Click here to register for your FREE exhibition floor pass or to reserve your ticket for the Futurist Summit (get in touch via the comments if you’d like me to try and get you a discount code) as the event will likely sell out soon (there are already 15,000 visitors from 8000 companies registered!).

Update: 15 June 2017

Slides from todays talk:


Update: 7 February 2018

Confirming for me that 5G will be a Ratners Moment for the Telcos I present Vodafone Ireland’s 5G presentation in Dublin today:

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Visiting their Mobile Internet tariff page:

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With the “Vodafone Mobile Internet Tariff” priced at €9.99 as a “Mobile Internet monthly add on (for Pay Monthly customers only)” we’ve arrived at a situation where a telco is talking up a change that would mean contract customers would in 1 second be able to exceed their €120 add on annual data plan. After which the excess would be charged at 0.1c per KB or €14,000 a second.

Has anyone at Vodafone actually thought this through? Why would anyone sign up to the T&Cs of a contract when the price you’re locking yourself would have you paying more for a minute of data than a house?

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The NHS doesn’t trust Patients with access to their own Medical Records but has provided strangers with access to the records of 26 Million Patients…

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I think the nature of this latest enormous Patient Data privacy breach highlights how ridiculous it is for the NHS to not be automatically providing Patients with access to their own records.

Yes it’s terrible that the NHS has spent more than £12 Billion on it’s National Program for IT and there are such basic incompetencies amongst the staff about how to purchase and use technology.

Yes it’s terrible that the NHS with it’s huge IT budgets isn’t doing more to reward hacking experts who can inform them about insecurities and patching needs in the databases that it uses to hold Patient data.

Yes it’s terrible that the NHS has Hospital Trusts ordering £400 Million EHR systems that don’t even know how to deploy and support iPads that they’ve already bought.

Yes it’s terrible that the NHS is freely giving away enormous data sets of private personal Patient health information to foreign tech companies without informing Patients or getting their consent.

But it’s unforgivable in 2017 that the NHS is prioritising things like WiFi in GP waiting rooms while it doesn’t trust Patients to access the electronic healthcare record relating to their care and doesn’t send a SMS notification to Patients (detailing the who/where/why) when this Record is accessed.

I think this is another one of the things we’ll look back on amazed that were so out of touch with the opportunity to help Patients but can you imagine what would happen if the NHS put Oldham GP Dr Amir Hannan (check out the Guardian article he authored in 2011 titled “Patients need access and understanding of their electronic health records”) or Prof Sam Lingam (a Consultant Paediatrician who has been sharing his notes with Parents for 30 years and published the “It’s Your Life” the Pregnancy and Child Health Record publication in 1987 to help Patients take control of their own health information) in charge of it’s IT strategy?

Related Posts:

What unthinkable things will mHealth make possible?

What’s The Future (WTF?) & how is your imagination failing you?


*** UPDATE 29 JANUARY 2018 ***

“One of Norway’s largest healthcare providers,Health South-East RHF (translated), has become the victim of a data breach that may have exposed sensitive data from half the country’s population. This amounts to about 2.5 million people”


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Investors still keen on the opportunity for mobile embedded glucometers

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Despite the struggles to get a return for investors at Telcare it seems investors are still keen to support the transformational opportunities there are when we embed mobile connectivity into the medical devices that are key to the management of chronic conditions.

I hope Livongo Health will get the support of Healthcare Professionals, Carers and Healthcare Organisations across the world as they have an important role to play if we are going to do more than just pay lip service to the International Diabetes Federation’s call (made 3 years ago) to embed mHealth and make it a compulsory part of how we provide quality Diabetes care.

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