Telefonica Digital says a health advice service in Brazil has attracted 360,000 mobile subscribers since its launch in the first quarter of this year. The service is offered by Vivo, the mobile operator in which Telefonica holds a majority stake. The figure was mentioned by executives during a media and analyst event held by Telefonica Digital in London last week in which health was one of the sectors tipped by the company for future growth.
The Brazilian health advice service costs BRL2-3 (US$1-1.5) per month to access, a charge which is paid directly by consumers. The operator noted that in emerging markets users generally have to pay for health services themselves unlike in wealthier countries where the government or another payer such as an insurance company is responsible.
Brazil and Chile are the two Latin American countries about which Telefonica is most optimistic for the future prospects of mobile health. Despite their differences it believes certain health services can be recycled between its markets in Europe and Latin America although sometimes that process can work in unusual ways.
During his keynote presentation at last week’s event Matthew Key, Telefonica Digital’s chief executive, pointed to a telecare service called Help at Hand recently launched in the UK. The service geo-fences a user so if they stray outside a specific area then an alarm is triggered. It is designed for mental health patients. However in Latin America the same service has attracted interest as protecting users’ personal security rather than their health.