LIVE FROM THE GSMA-mHA MOBILE HEALTH SUMMIT:Nicolaus Henke, Head of Healthcare at McKinsey (pictured), yesterday launched an attack on the current global healthcare system before joining Philippine operator Smart and vendor Sproxil in outlining how mobile technology can play a role in improving the current health ecosystem.
“At the very least you could say the health ecosystem is in a challenging state, you could even say it’s in crisis if you want,” stated Henke. “It’s not doing well.” He cited a shortage of healthcare workers and pharmaceutical medicine, as well as inadequate infrastructure, as contributing to the problem. “Healthcare has outgrown the economy two percent a year in all developed countries over the last 80 years,” he claimed, before revealing the alarming statistic that the US government has funded national health insurance service Medicare to the tune of US$37 trillion. By contrast, during the recent financial crisis the US government contributed US$1 trillion to help bail out the banks. “That US$1 trillion is nothing compared to Medicare,” said Henke.
Henke said the picture is equally bleak elsewhere in the world, calling out the UK and other European countries as needing further huge investments in the next few years. “Something has to happen and it needs to be quite different to what we are doing today,” admitted Henke.
According to the McKinsey representative, “mHealth isn’t the answer to all these problems” but does provide a “great opportunity through innovation.” He cited the example of a program in Valencia, Spain – whereby local citizens are able to use any of the city’s 21 district medical sectors, regardless of where they live in the city, by texting for medical advice in an emergency – as one way in which mobile communications is bringing new development to healthcare.
Meanwhile Ramon R. Isberto, Head of Public Affairs Group, at Smart Communications, revealed details of the company’s Shine (Secured health information network exchange) initiative and outlined the operator’s previous efforts in the mHealth space (including a project with Qualcomm). With hundreds of islands making up the country, he spoke of the need to use mobile technology to provide health services in remote areas, and proclaimed the benefits this is having on the midwifery industry.
Finally, Alden Zecha, CFO at US vendor Sproxil, outlined how his company is providing a “triple-win business model” for the healthcare industry. Sproxil allows customers to decide at point of purchase whether the drugs they are receiving are authentic. “At the cash register consumers scratch and text a pseudo-random, one-time use code. This reveals a code, and they then send a free SMS to us to determine whether that product is authentic,” commented Zecha. “The system responds with an ‘OK’ or ‘Fake’.”
Zecha claimed this basic service provides benefits to the consumer, government and pharmaceutical industry (which pays for the service). “The only loser is the counterfeiter,” he claimed. Sproxil’s service has been live in Nigeria for almost eighteen months and has served just shy of 200,000 unique mobile number ‘patients’. Customers include Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline. Sproxil is launching next month in India and will expand to Kenya and Ghana this summer.