Do you believe that a M2M Cellular Hub is still viable in the mHealth marketplace, or can it all be handled by a Smart Phone or Tablet? (Chronic Care, Wellness, etc.)

Obviously I believe that there was a need for M2M Cellular Hubs since I founded MedApps and we created the HealthPAL, MobileLink and HomeLink. We originally started with an early Smart Phone (Nokia 9560) and became the Nokia Mobile Rules Winner in 2008 for our Healthcare app, but quickly realized the implementation in the field was more difficult at the time to connect because (1) not all people had Smart Phones and (2) we were serving a population that is the 20% that consume 80% of healthcare costs.

That population was typically the elderly and the medicaid population. At the time, there were challenges in getting connected in both groups. It became simpler to create a hub that was “Always On”, Hands Off, Simple and was extremely cost effective. The data plans for M2M Cellular are extremely cost effective (because they are transporting small amounts of data), versus having to buy a subsidize Smart Phone and data / voice plans that were $30-$50 per month.

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But does that still ring true today?

Can we get away from the dedicated Hubs and use Smart Phones and Tablets solely. I know that we can build plastic around cheap Smart Phones and Tablets and make them usable / rugged for the users, but is it still cost effective over M2M Hubs?

Don’t get me wrong, I am a true believer that one solution does not fit all, and if you build it, they may not come. (Ok, that’s the last of my rhetoric!) I believe the Smart Phone and Tablet are one of the best platforms to move new healthcare adoption forward, but is it cost effective in all business models?

Do you know what a patient has in their pocket when they leave the hospital? Are they willing to use their own phone and data plans to transmit healthcare data?

Statistics show that there are over 100,000 healthcare apps that have been created for the Smart Phone and Tablet and that a vast majority are downloaded once and never used again.

My own mom recently switched from a Smart Phone to a flip phone because (1) she thought it was too complicated and just wanted a dedicated simple device and (2) it was too expensive. She went from a $40 plan down to a $9 plan per month and only uses it when she needs it. (Most for connected emergency use)

Also, she uses technology (Laptop, Tablet and Phone) but she doesn’t want ANYONE, including her son, to touch it. Once she gets it dialed in and its working for her needs, then she is going to stay with it for awhile and not going to allow anyone to put applications on her devices that could mess them up. Someone has already done it in healthcare and thats it, no more. So, in certain populations, can we really rely of the users devices and connectivity (Bring Your Own Device – BYOD) in order to connect all patients? Especially in the 20% that consume 80% of healthcare costs.

What do you think?