Five most common mHealth business models
mHealth is being hailed as the "next major development," for mobile network operators (MNOs), according to a report that outlines how operators can take advantage of the technology's full potential.
In Capturing Value in the mHealth Oasis: An Opportunity for Mobile Network Operators? officials from management consulting firm Arthur D. Little say success factors for mHealth include "identifying the most suitable mHealth solutions, the most appropriate business model and the key responsibilities for mobile operators."
The report says there is no one-size-fits-all mHealth solution for all markets. The demand for, and the nature of, mHealth services depend on the degree of development and specific characteristics of individual markets. For example, because the healthcare environment is one that is heavily regulated, mHealth should be looked at as a "complementary enhancement to traditional healthcare services."
Because "mHealth business models are largely unproven and there is no clear benchmark model to adopt ... partnerships will be necessary as no single player will have all the essential capabilities required to deliver such solutions," the report says.
The five most common mhealth business models, according to the study, are:
- "Bitpipe provider" – Reduced to transmission of data to a control unit – no specific customization. Potential offerings for the MNO could be connectivity.
- "Enabler"- connectivity provider – Connectivity tailored for mHealth apps w.r.t business models, service levels, SIM provisioning, security features. Potential offerings for the MNO could be connectivity and platform.
- "Joint partner" – MNO focused on partnerships to develop mHealth application. Potential offerings for the MNO could be connectivity, platform, solution/app/device, billing and med. devices connected to platform.
- "White label partner" or "Lead partner" – Offer full end-to-end solutions incl. vertical-specific and client customized solutions (hardware and hosted solutions) White-label partner will not push labeled solutions into the market. Potential offerings for the MNO could be connectivity, platform, solution/app/device, billing and med. devices connected to platform.
"mHealth is unlike any other mobile service and requires a completely new marketing strategy," says Karim Taga, director at Arthur D. Little's Telecoms, Information, Media & Electronics (TIME) Practice. The mobile operator (MNO) must maximize its own capabilities, and partner with other players to acquire key capabilities to effectively and efficiently bring patients into the ecosystem."
In emerging markets, mHealth solutions, such as the delivery of medical information by SMS or MMS, medicine reminders, remote data collection and medical help-lines, can help improve patients' access to basic medical care. In these markets, the report says the MNO must take a leading role in developing the ecosystem, and, most crucially, must also engage the support of non-governmental organizations and government agencies with local expertise.