Friday, September 21, 2007

Business models for mobile health care: A service or product perspective?

With the advances in information, communication and sensor technology a new breed of mobile applications become possible that offer new opportunities for health care. These mobile health applications enable monitoring and treatment of the patient in his/her personal environment. I am currently involved in a project were we develop business models for mobile health as a follow-up to a technological R&D project.

What in my opinion is a very crucial decision is whether one should base these business models on a product or service perspective. My first impression is that often a product perspective is taken while a service perspective may be needed. While both perspectives can take the user/patient experience as starting point they differ in how the user/patient is supported in his/her health activities.

A business model for mobile health based upon a product perspective puts the mobile device (phone, PDA, special device) and/or the health software central and has a device or software supplier as focal actor in the supply network. It focuses on buying/selling health devices and/or software.

A business for mobile health based upon a service perspective puts the monitoring and treatment services central and has a mobile health service provider as focal actor in the delivery network. It focuses on the subscription to and delivery of health services.

The choice for a service perspective is not only having a core service instead of a core product, it also forces one to think of facilitating and support services (see a previous post) that increase the user experience and convenience. Facilitating services are, for example, regular updates of the software or in-depth analysis of health data on a remote server. Supporting services are, for example, access to consultation by health professionals or sharing data in communities.

Probably the best option is to have a high-level evaluation of both perspectives before having an in-depth analysis of one of them (or a mix). What do you think of this? Do you perceive these differences? Have you encountered examples of one of these approaches, or maybe a mixed approach?

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