The magic of mobile "health” moments

According to venture capitalist Mary Meeker, the average person now checks their phone 150 times a day (up from 110 just two years ago). Of those 150 times, messaging occupies 23, time checking 18, and the rest are largely distributed between checking and posting on social media.

However, in amongst those statistics, potentially the most important metric is missing - how many times do we check our phone for a positive behaviour change?

I think we’ll see more of the intersection of the ubiquitous phone with behaviour change - the concept of a micro mobile moment (MMM) for health. There is now a term to describe what would have typically been labelled as distractions – a mobile moment. This is the exact moment when you are checking your phone when you need something. It could be finding the reviews for a restaurant while you’re walking by, or being prompted with the price for a piece of clothing while you’re browsing the clothing aisle. The key here is the context.

Mobile is pervasive, however it is the “mobile moment” that will be the differentiating lynchpin for an empowering consumer experience – the ability to provide the consumer with ‘that’ which they need when ‘that’ is all that matters.

Health is seemingly the last frontier for mobile to influence. Yes, many of us are using the likes of Fitbit, Jawbone and Apple Watch, but that is scraping the surface. In my opinion it’s mainly the already healthy people who are using these devices to maintain their health. The disruption will happen when we can more effectively use the mobile and mobile moments to influence patients that truly need positive behaviour intervention.

Imagine being able to use an app to find nearby restaurants that cater to your favourite cuisine and healthy lifestyle? Furthermore, they offer menu suggestions based on the amount of activity you have completed that day, that week, that month, within your nutrition guidelines, and including your friend’s reviews.

Next comes extending that to healthcare scenarios with significant and real impact. Many of us know of friends or family that suffers from chronic conditions; be it diabetes, congestive heart failure or something as seasonal as asthma. What has the advent of mobile done for them? B.J. Fogg in his widely circulated model suggests that for behaviour change to occur, three elements need to converge at the same moment - motivation, ability and trigger.

The dots connect now. We finally can connect motivation and trigger through a mobile moment to help the chronically ill. In my view a majority of us have the ability, but what we lack are the other two. For example, being able to contextually provide actionable interventions to an asthmatic to take medication when the pollen count is high, or being able to check the calendar to highlight locations for the day which have high pollen count. These are all actionable moments.

However, in order to make meaningful intervention through mobile moments, there are a number of key IT technologies that need to come together. This includes piecing together contextual information, analysing the customer journey and linking pieces of disparate information that have to come together in that moment. With the widespread adoption of application programming interfaces (APIs), we now have the capability to create this actionable intelligence and deliver it through the mobile phone.

And with the advent of standards like FHIR and Project Argonaut come the standardisation of healthcare constructs that cover 80 per cent of the use cases. Combine that with journey-based analytics and we now have the infrastructure, aka intelligent APIs, to support the mobile moments.

The future will get even brighter when you think about the number of other wearables being designed to sense and create these moments. Our message to all the app developers is innovate with APIs into the mobile health moment, as there are rich rewards waiting.

Aashima Gupta, Digital Transformation Strategy – Healthcare Lead, Apigee