Thursday, March 31, 2011

Turning mHealth into be the next killer app requires different approach

The significant growth in demand for advanced portable devices and the increase in usage of mobile applications led to the publishing of optimistic forecasts by many analysts concerning the possibility of utilizing mobile health opportunities by Mobile Network Operators (MNO).

Source: Arthur D. Little
A new research by Arthur D. Little follows the general trend, while making several clear recommendations. The bottom line is that mHealth could be the next killer app in the mobile industry, but it requires a completely new market entry strategy.

“The MNO must assess its own capabilities, decide what role it will play and how it will contribute to the service, align the internal capabilities required for the selected business model, and then partner with other players to acquire key capabilities to effectively and efficiently bring patients into the ecosystem,” says Dr. Karim Taga, Director at Arthur D. Little’s Telecoms, Information, Media & Electronics Practice.

The new report, titled: Capturing Value in the mHealth Oasis: An Opportunity for Mobile Network Operators? recommend mobile operators to carefully examine the degree of development and specific characteristics of individual markets in order to launch the appropriate solutions.

It suggests that in developed markets, operators must focus on solutions that fit within the current health care industry structure. At the same time, in emerging markets, the 'Keep it simple' attitude should lead the penetration process. In those markets, mobile operators should focus on mHealth solutions, such as the delivery of medical information by SMS or MMS, medicine reminders, remote data collection, and medical help-lines, that can help improve patients’ access to basic medical care.

The authors note that mHealth has been hailed as the next major development for mobile networks operators, while warning that it might be "wishful thinking from a sector desperately seeking additional revenues to offset margin erosion."

The report concludes that if MNOs adhere to a few simple guidelines they can avoid major obstacles and increase their chances of success. If these guidelines are taken into account, Arthur D. Little believes that mHealth will surpass even the most optimistic industry predictions within the next five years and add significant value to the mobile industry.

We as Aerotel would recommend, in any case, adopting a careful approach which is based on building a strong partnership with other players, who are already active in the market and have compatible advantages. In our view, the natural partnership for MNO would be with health services providers and technology developers, with proven expertise in the eHealth market.

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