Bernhard Kappe, Founder & CEO of Pathfinder Software outlines four key mobile health challenges for medical device & diagnostic firms.
In 2010, Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, one of my favorite analysts, wrote that we were in the middle of the fifth major technology cycle of the past half-century, the era of the mobile internet. Her 2013 Internet Trends Report highlights how these trends continue to accelerate:
– In 2013, the US has reached 219 smartphone subscribers, 58% market penetration, with 28% year-on-year growth. Worldwide, there are 1.5 billion smartphone subscribers, with a total potential market of over 5 billion.
– Tablets experienced 3x faster than smartphones in the first 12 months since the introduction. By Q4 of 2012, more tablets were being shipped worldwide than laptops or desktops.
– Mobile users reach for their smartphones 150 times a day. With wearables (such as watches, glasses, etc.) this could be hands-free.
– Expectations are for 80% market penetration by 2015.
Mobile in Healthcare
Physicians, nurses and patients are not immune from this trend. According to Manhattan research, 72% of physicians now have tablets, up from about 30% in 2011, and over 75% of them are using their smartphones at work. For patients, the fastest growth in smartphone penetration is now among baby boomers and seniors.
The Key to Understanding Mobile: Data Liberation
The way to think about mobile is not purely in terms of smartphones or tablets, but in terms of what these devices enable: Data, information and powerful computing that is personalized, always-on, always with you, and instantaneous, on any platform (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, kiosk, glasses, watch), that is aware of context, location, with functionality appropriate to form factor and usage scenario. Or as US CTO Todd Park calls it “Data Liberation.”
Mobile Health Opportunities
In healthcare, mobile opportunities exist where these characteristics can be applied to make more informed decisions faster, and thereby bend the cost curve, improve outcomes or improve the lives of patients and clinicians. Here are a few examples:
– Reducing Hospital Readmissions: Using tablets and smartphones to reduce readmissions, by combining easy to use mobile apps, telemedicine services and feedback from sensors, wound photographs, or interactive tests to reduce readmission after surgery.
– Managing Chronic Conditions: Smartphone apps that integrate with blood glucose monitors for diabetes, or with inhalers for Asthma or COPD.
– Mobilizing Clinicians: A striking example of this is AirStrip, which enables clinicians to interact with and respond rapidly to clinically relevant patient health information, including patient monitors, imaging, labs, and studies, anywhere, anytime – thus reducing the time necessary for critical care decisions.
The Challenges of Mobile
While mobile health provides many opportunities to improve healthcare outcomes, it also brings about a number of challenges for device and diagnostic firms:
1. Platform Proliferation – taking advantage of mobile often means supporting multiple different devices, operating systems, form factors, input mechanisms and versions.
2. Speed of Platform Change. Mobile device hardware and software is evolving very rapidly, with major changes occurring on an annual basis and frequent updates in between.
3. Data Liberation – the need to provide data to the same user on different platforms and different form factors for different types of uses, as well as the need to integrate with relevant data from other sources.
4. Data liberation also means that device information is likely available to more users with less specific training. In this case, ease of use is of increasing importance.
Traditional approaches that result in 3 to 5-year product life cycles are not suited to these challenges. They require a different approach, one adopting lean and agile methods to an FDA regulated environment.
About Bernhard Kappe:
As founder and President of Pathfinder, Bernhard applies lean startup principles and agile development to launch successful products. As a product of the Chicago-tech industry, he has a passion for launching successful software that makes a difference in the world and helping companies deliver more from their innovation pipelines. He leads the Chicago Lean Startup Circle, the Chicago Product Management Association (ChiPMA), and the Chicago Lean Startup Challenge, the top startup competition based on the lean startup principle.
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