Matthew Holt

Where is there mHealth, really?

Health 2.0 aficionados will know that I’ve been railing against the term “mobile health” or “mHealth” for about three years. Health 2.0 is simply the next thing in health technology, and will remain so (whatever that might be). Sure we have a definition, but it’s about what’s happening not how it happens. Calling something mHealth traps it to a device, in particular a cell phone, and ignores the rest of the ecosystem of the technology and culture that the cell phone is but one part of–that’s the concept we call “unplatforms.” mHealth is like talking about cooking in the kitchen and only talking about the fridge. It’s damn important but you need a stove, a sink and more to make it all work.So if you have a mHealth strategy, as Susannah Fox might quote LOLcats, “URDoin it Rong”.

However, the place where it makes sense to talk abut mHealth is where there are only cell phones, and that place is large tranches of the rural developing world. This came up for me twice yesterday. once in a long chat with DataDyne‘s Joel Selanikio who has a really cool product called EpiSurveyor that works not via SMS but via an app on simple phones and enables very cheap and easy data collection. The other was in a high profile announcement by Johnson & Johnson (a major funder of text4baby btw), which via its Babycenter subsidiary is introducing–with USAID, State Department & the mHealth Alliance– $10m program supporting the use of cell phones for maternal health in developing countries.

So for the health worker in the rural Bangladeshi village, lets have an mHealth strategy. For those of us in the developed world, we need an overall strategy to deal with data and applications–whatever devices they are using.

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Paulo MachadoMatthew HoltDan Munro Recent comment authors
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Dan Munro
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Different Tim. The reference wasn’t O’Reilly – it was Berners-Lee who envisioned the semantic web back in 1999.

Strictly from a software development point of view – the new reality is to develop for mobile first – web/desktop second. That’s a big shift – both in terms of strategy and tactic.

Paulo Machado
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I agree w/ Matthew. I would suggest that good strategy needs to have sub-strategies or tactics and mhealth could be viewed as such and really feels more like a critical component of the HOW and not the WHAT. Otherwise you fall in to the danger of siloed & non-integrated approaches which will not optimize care coordination…

Dan Munro
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Sorry Matthew but … IMHO … I think mHealth actually does work – for a segment of the tech industry that has just exploded (across every vertical – finally including health). For “personal computing,” iPad usage (37%) is greater than both desktops (21%) and laptops (27%). Smartphones are the laggard’s (15%), but combined with iPad’s these mobile devices now account for 52% of “personal computing.” http://read.bi/kMRrQq Google activates about 400,000 new Android-based devices – per day – and that number is doubling every 9mos. They also estimate that there are 100M Android-based devices that have been activated since its launch… Read more »