Guest post by Kathleen Malaspina, Malaspina Healthcare.
There was a time, not so long ago, when cellular phones weren’t as ubiquitous as blue jeans.
Back in the Nineties, I worked with the Motorola Cellular Group (acquired recently by Google). At that time, there was a lot of uncertainty which of the competing technologies would prevail. Also, because cell phone use was associated mostly with careers such as realtor, construction engineer and politician, we wondered how to make mobile phone use appealing to the general population.
I remember a meeting where someone speculated, “Within the coming decade, up to half of the people in the U.S. would use mobile phones.” The room was openly skeptical. Today, mobile device penetration rates are nearly 96% in the U.S. and up to 147% in places such as Italy (where some people must want a separate phone for each ear!).
Everyone grasps the basic concept of a mobile phone.
Not everyone understands what exactly defines Mobile Health. The National Institutes of Health calls it “the delivery of healthcare services via mobile communications services,” which cuts a pretty broad swath. That definition would include the iStethoscope iPhone app.
This diversity means it’s important for medical device marketing companies to first carefully evaluate where (or even if) they fit into the mHealth market. As always, successful healthcare products are those that offer a meaningful way to engage medical professionals and provide them and their patients with clear benefits.
Another parallel with the mobile communications industry is the effort to establish standards and regulations. Progress here is evident in such organizations as Continua Health Alliance (a consortium of more than 240 companies) and recently released clarifications from the FDA.
There’s a lot of optimism for mHealth. It’s going to be an interesting ride. Let me know if I can help guide your company through it.
Kathleen Malaspina is a healthcare and mhealth marketing strategist focused on medical technology, medical devices, mHealth & consumer healthcare trends. She runs Malaspina Healthcare Consulting based in Austin, TX and Seattle, WA.