Posts Tagged ‘Google’

iphone-hedLast week the Washington Post published an article on the fervor surrounding the iPhone and the slew of independent developers that are making boat-loads of money by creating apps for the iPhone.  As the article correctly points out, Apple’s goal is not so much to make money from selling these apps, but to become the de facto platform for all things mobile.

Apple won’t say how much money the App Store is taking in, nor will it say how many of the 300 million downloads were free apps and how many cost money (most apps are free; the others cost anywhere from a buck to $10). Apple gets a 30 percent cut of revenue generated by apps. But for Apple right now the money isn’t the point. The big thing is the race to become the dominant mobile-computing platform, the way IBM-standard PCs running Microsoft operating software — first DOS and then Windows — came to dominate personal computing in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Apple has a monsterous head-start on the competition.

Today, there are over 10,000 apps for the iPhone, nearly 450 just for health & wellness.  Taking a look at would be competitor Google and its Android platform and you’ll find a paltry 35 apps total, none by the way are targeting health & wellness.  Palm, which once had the physician market virtually to itself is all but dead.  Yes, Palm is releasing a new OS any day now but they have lost so much momentum and market cache that they will find it impossible to come back as no independent developer in their right mind will bother to develop an app for a dying platform.

What about Blackberry, Nokia (Symbian) and Windows Mobile?

These are three big players in the mobile market who will not give up easily and each has some pretty substantial resources to back them up.  Problem is, if you add Appple and Google to the mix, you end up with 5 potentially viable mobile platforms.  Can and will the market support that many? Unlikely.

In time there will be a shake-out that will result in at most, 3 mobile platforms, but that is at least 3 years down the road, unless of course there is an acquisition (e.g., Microsoft acquiring Blackberry).

So what is a developer to do?  Here is our 5 steps to mobile platform success:

  1. Talk to your customers and talk to your customers’ customers to understand how they are using mobile technology today and what mobile apps/platforms they are using today.
  2. Pay particular attention to those customers who are often away from their desks/offices for extended periods of time. Understand how they access information on the go and what information is most difficult, but critical to gain access to.
  3. Build platform flexibility into the app.  Assume your app will eventually be available on at least 2 if not 3 separate mobile platforms.  In the US, we recommend established developers to target the iPhone first. If you are new to the market, developing for Android first will provide early and important market visibility.  If you have a large presence outside the US, Nokia’s Symbian wil be on your radar.
  4. First and foremost, focus on simplicity of engaging/using the app.  Despite all their features, mobile devices have their limitations, thus the app must be extremely easy to use requiring a minimum number of clicks to perform any task.  Beyond simplicity, think radical and leverage the unique capabilities of mobile devices e.g., accelerometers, GPS, barcode scanners, etc.
  5. Iterate, iterate iterate.  Once you launch the mobile app, do not expect to just sit back and let the $$$ roll-in.  Get the product out into the market quickly and continually track usage patterns.  Update product on a frequent basis to reflect those usage patterns, creating added value. Mobile apps are extremely viral, iteration is key to a viral market infection.

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Matt Holt, owner and master of The Health Care Blog, has an excellent post today on PHRs and privacy.  It is a long post, at times more of a rambling rant, but in the end it does a great job of thoroughly reviewing a lot of the brouhaha surrounding this topic and discrediting many of the privacy advocate statements that have been made recently.

I’ve written on this topic numerous times, (just click on the “Privacy” in the tag cloud on your right) most recently calling all of this a red herring with the press being extremely lazy and not willing to look beyond the “privacy issue” to what benefits might accrue to the healthcare system via PHRs.

And it is not like the PHR vendors have done all that great  job on the issue either, though I do see that changing with Microsoft now in the market.  Google, in time, can be expected as well to have some good policies in place but to date they have not shared them.  Google missed the boat on that one and I hope they will follow Microsoft’s lead.

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Here is the full Google presentation given by CEO Schmidt to a full house at last week’s HIMSS conference. You probably will not learn much more than what I have already provided in previous posts over the last couple of weeks, but I did find that last 12 minutes or so of most interest. But isn’t that usually the case with keynote presentations where the majority of content is rarely new and only the Q&A starts to reveal something interesting.

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Plenty has been written, both here and elsewhere about the two 800-pound gorillas, Google and Microsoft’s, respective plays in the consumer healthcare sector. Yes, what they are doing is extremely important to this industry and will change the healthcare industry in ways we have yet to imagine, but let’s giving this story some breathing room, at least for today and focus on a lemur instead.

A tiny Canadian company, TinyEye is doing something right now to address a problem that plagues many a youngster, speech impediments. My own younger brother suffered from this as a child and had a couple years of tutoring to overcome his speech impediment. Luckily, my parents could readily afford a tutor and we always lived in relatively dense, suburban communities so it was not that hard for my brother to meet with a speech pathologist once a week.

But what about those children who live in rural communities? Well, that is where TinyEye comes in.

The founder, Marnee Brick, is a speech pathologist and was struggling to visit all her clients spending more time in the car, than with a patient. Three years ago, she brought the topic up with her brother, Greg Sutton, who suggested using the Internet to deliver services and TinyEye was born. The two built out a telehealth solution that would allow a speech pathologist to deliver services via the web, using simple, speech-centric computer-games coupled with an Internet videocam that allows the speech pathologist to work with the child online and remotely to observe in real-time a child’s pronunciation and make corrections. Really, pretty slick little solution that addresses a real market need and gives one some idea as to how telehealth can be applied to some seemingly mundane, but important problems.

TinyEye is a hosted SaaS (software as a service) solution that includes some 40+ games that a speech pathologist can easily configure to their patient’s needs based on a wide variety of articulations. The patient is provided access to the online games by their speech pathologist for doing “homework” between virtual (and real) visits. As these games are hosted online, the pathologist can also go back and see how a patient is progressing in doing their homework assignments.

The product went beta in November 2006 and had their first paying customer by March 2007. TinyEye is methodically growing out its business, which is surprisingly international for such a young start-up having clients in Canada, the US, Mexico and even Argentina. Typical customer today is a school district that covers a large geographical area and provides speech training to students in elementary grades. By adopting the solution, the school district typically cuts trip visits by speech pathologists neaarly 75%, with the pathologist visiting schools once a month rather than the prior once per week schedule to give instruction. As a subscription service, pricing is flexible depending on modules used, number of pathologists, etc. What the company has found most successful though is to price the solution based on a traditional ROI model, which is this case is time and resource (most often travel costs) cost savings for the school district.

Final Assessment

Nice, simple example of what a small company can do leveraging new technology platforms and business models to address a very real need in the market. TinyEye is certainly not out to solve all the ills in healthcare today, nor could they, but their focused approach on a well-defined niche is solving a clear problem. TinyEye is not big, its not fancy (marketing could use some help here) but it works and it is delivering value today to pathologists, patients and funding agencies.

I love finding companies like this.

As an analyst one can easily get drowned in the hype of what the Big Boys are doing. It is refreshing at times to find simple companies like TinyEye. What was even more surprising for me, is that in a relatively simple search and review, I could not find anyone else doing what TinyEye is doing – they do seem to be unique.

Again, a breath of fresh air after all the other hype including HIMSS. Three cheers to all the small lemurs in the market addressing healthcare issues one problem at a time.

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The latest edition of The McKinsey’s Quarterly report has an interesting interview with Cleveland Clinic’s CEO, Toby Cosgrove. Nothing earth-shattering is revealed, but interview does give some insight into Cleveland Clinic and its operating philosophy. This provides further color, albeit implied, to the recent partnership between Google Health and Cleveland Clinic.

Note: You’ll have to go through a pretty quick and painless registration process on th McKinsey site to see the full text of the interview.

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Vince, over on his e-Care Management blog has a good post up today where he compares the respective consumer healthcare platforms from Microsoft (HealthVault) and Google Health.  Bottom line for Vince is that there are more similarities than differences between these two initiatives and that consumer engagement will be their collective top challenge.

Certainly agree with him on that last point.  In conversations I have had with many friends, family and associates outside of the healthcare industry, virtually everyone sees the utility of having control and access to their medical records via the Internet, but almost without exception, no one really knows how to get started.

To their credit, the AHIMA has launched a major campaign to educate the consumer on PHRs, but it will take a lot more than this to move up the adoption curve beyond early innovators.

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Little over a week ago I had a post that discussed the recent release of the World Privacy Forum report on PHRs.  In that particular post I hit Microsoft pretty hard for not extending their tight privacy policies to the numerous partners that were signing on to HealthVault.  I based that comment on a conversation several months previous, shortly after the release of HealthVault, when during a briefing I asked about this issue was given a response basically saying that their partners were independent companies, had their own businesses to run, could define their own policies, blah, blah, blah.

Obviously, was not impressed and took Microsoft to task when the aforementioned PHR privacy report was published.

Of course, Microsoft contacted me immediately to tell me that I had it all wrong, that indeed they were requiring partners to adopt the excellent HealthVault privacy policies in order to participate in the HealthVault ecosystem and that this was a part of their standard Terms & Conditions (T&C) sheet.

I responded: “Prove it.”

At first, Microsoft was reluctant to send me a copy of the privacy requirements in the T&C.   Thn, out-of-the-blue, during my briefing with Microsoft at this week’s HIMSS I was told that I would be receiving the document post-haste.  Well, guess what, they not only decided to share the document with me, but have posted the T&C privacy requirements within the HealthVault Development Center for anyone to view.

It is an impressive privacy document that clearly gives the consumer control of their records.  It requires the partner to take numerous steps to insure privacy including among others, adopting HealthVault privacy policies, using explicit opt-out policies, prominently displaying their privacy policies on all web-pages and informing the user know of any changes that are made to policies.  Here is a direct link to that partner privacy policy page.

Good example of full disclosure that others would be wise to emulate.

Speaking of which, have yet to see Google’s privacy policies for Google Health, though Schmidt yesterday did clearly state that Google takes privacy very seriously.  Well…

Prove It!

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