Keynote: Health professionals have to lead mHealth market

ganapathy mhsProfessor Krishnan Ganapathy, president of India’s Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation, warned that “mobile health can never, ever, be set to take off unless it is integrated into the core of the healthcare delivery system in our country.” Crucial to this is the need to generate traction among healthcare professionals, with Ganapathy arguing that healthcare providers should be “first among equals” in the mobile healthcare ecosystem. However, he also argued that the needs of patients must be central to the discussion: “It is the end user who needs to decide. Have you ever spoken to him to ask him what is it he wants? I think this is very, very important if you are going to make it successful.” In a keynote presentation today, Ganapathy noted that in the mobile health ecosystem “there has to be a captain, there has to be a leader, and I humbly submit it should be the healthcare provider.” But as yet, support for mHealth has yet to reach the frontline, which is likely to provide a significant barrier to adoption. “Unless the practising doctor or nurse is excited, is motivated, and becomes a champion of mHealth, I do not see mHealth really growing. It is fascinating for me to see the GSMA, mobile network operators, application developers, Microsoft’s research department, putting their heart and soul into this. But believe me, the average, run of the mill doctor or nurse is still not passionate about it. You have to make them much more passionate, and the only way to do it is to get them involved in the process.” Read More >>

MTN and Telefonica call for mHealth partnershipsdefaria

Two large but very diverse mobile operators – MTN and Telefonica – both agreed in this morning’s keynote session that partnerships with various players in the value chain are necessary if mHealth is to grow beyond test pilots into a mainstream global opportunity. Christian De Faria (pictured), SVP, Commercial & Innovation, at African operator giant MTN, talked of the company’s strategy to work with Sanlam Health as its strategic partner in developing and implementing mHealth initiatives across all of the operator’s 21 networks. While MTN brings infrastructure, distribution reach and a “service mindset” to the table, De Faria said that Sanlam brings core medical knowledge and an understanding of the local medical operating environment. “We can sell airtime well but we are not specialists in healthcare – our philosophy is to partner with companies that know,” commented De Faria. “We have to complement each other and be respectful of the regulatory environment in every country. By partnering we know that the service we provide will be reliable and up to standard.” Read More >>

McKinsey attacks healthcare ecosystem as mHealth players promise potential

Nicolaus_HenkeNicolaus Henke, Head of Healthcare at McKinsey (pictured), yesterday launched an attack on the current global healthcare system before joining Philippine operator Smart and vendor Sproxil in outlining how mobile technology can play a role in improving the current health ecosystem. “At the very least you could say the health ecosystem is in a challenging state, you could even say it’s in crisis if you want,” stated Henke. “It’s not doing well.” He cited a shortage of healthcare workers and pharmaceutical medicine, as well as inadequate infrastructure, as contributing to the problem. “Healthcare has outgrown the economy two percent a year in all developed countries over the last 80 years,” he claimed, before revealing the alarming statistic that the US government has funded national health insurance service Medicare to the tune of US$37 trillion. By contrast, during the recent financial crisis the US government contributed US$1 trillion to help bail out the banks. “That US$1 trillion is nothing compared to Medicare,” said Henke. Read More >>

Wheeler: “This is mHealth, not hMobile”

Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the Board of the mHealth Alliance, drew the event to a close this evening by underlining the core commodity at the heart of the healthcare business – information. “I think you’ve got to start with the fact that healthcare is an information business. When he puts the stethoscope up against your chest, he is gathering information. When he listens to your cough, he is gathering information. When he takes your temperature he is gathering information. If you look at the healthcare business as a collection of information, the challenge is how to get information to the place where it can best be most productively consumed, for the benefit of the person from whom I have collected it. That’s the challenge that exists in the world today,” he said. Read More >>

Microsoft talks up “natural” interfaces to drive mHealth

microsoft mhsDr. Kristin Tolle, Director of Natural User Interactions at Microsoft, said that the mobile health industry can “come up with tools that are more natural for people to use” in order to increase service penetration. “You have to think about what people say, what they see, what they hear, and how they feel. If you tap into people’s emotion, you’ll definitely get adoption of the solutions,” she noted. In a presentation this morning, a number of attributes for successful services were highlighted, including: the need for products to be “culturally sensitive;” the need to support multiple languages and “unlettered” users; the need to be adaptive to support many environments and diseases; the need to interoperate with other products and services; the need for products to be easy to adopt and, finally, the need to “feel natural.” Read More >>