Tag Archives: gamification

Healthcare in India – still Miles from the Internet of Things Vision

28 Dec

My 81 year old dad has been having a rocky couple months.
It started with weakness and giddiness; then a feeling of numbness in his limbs; then incidences of blurred vision and slurred speech – classic stroke symptoms.
My brother and I started the usual merry go round that all caregivers of senior citizens go through – emergency-neurologist-cardiologist-nephorologist-endocrinologist-back to emergency-repeat cycle. Threw in sessions with a GP, and then a couple operations of the eye at the ophthalmologist.
Went to two hospitals, and 4 branches of one of them.

Was completely appalled at the isolated nature of patient information access and diagnostists available, even at the best hospitals, in the Silicon Valley of India. And this, when we are debating the use of Wearables, Internet of Things and Big data all the time!

Lets look at the possibilities for the Healthcare IoT first:

– At the individual/ patient level –

The ultimate beneficiaries, patients (both current and potential/ future), will basically create and consume larger amounts of data than ever before – due to wearables (e.g. Tempo from CarePredict) / implants/ other gadgets and devices owned.

This will enable better monitoring of behaviour, and, when coupled with context – facilitate hugely improved diagnostics. Diagnostics that are derived from integrated data – multi disciplinary, as well as omnichannel/ source. (So, no more – “your sodium is low, eat more salt – says nephrologist — uhhh, but BP is high, reduce salt says cardio”! )

These diagnostics will then not only treat any emergencies or negative incidences quicker/ more competently, but also act proactively – thus alerting users and discouraging them from harmful behaviours (too much smoking/ not enough walking/ too many carbs/ not enough sleep….)

This personalised patient care, is after all, the raison-d-etre of the wearables market, which, according to a recent IDC report, is set to reach 45.7 million units worldwide in 2015, and 126.1 million units in 2019.

The IoT approach can then be taken a step further – and use gamification techniques to reward compliant medical behaviour. (My constantly sudoku playing dada and candy crushing mom I’m sure will be very vulnerable to these approaches!)

– At the macro/ aggregated level –

Obviously, when taken as a large body of data, analytics organisations can develop and fine tune personas and segments, making them richer and more detailed. The way to do this would be to combine biomed research using life sciences databases with aggregated patient behaviour and symptoms. This should ideally ultimately result in predictive models, thus leading to better treatment. Basically, a higher emphasis on real time monitoring and intervention combined with traditional lab work becomes the new clinical research methodology! In long term vision, companies and nations get a jumpstart on reducing burden of disease in the overall population.

– At the enterprise level –

Many studies are saying that providers may be able to save up to a quarter of their business costs with the Internet of Things.  This would be done by integrating new technologies into their operational strategies. Think about it – a vast, dynamic mass of wearables, biometric sensors, smartphone add-ons, and other medical devices and implantables – all growing, shifting, and ripe for an IoT approach


– Miscellaneous –

The serious side of Healthcare IoT is only one side of the picture actually – the wearables landscape is fairly glamorous even from the early adopter tech consumer’s Point of View! Think Ping, a social networking garment developed by designer Jen Darmour; Smart socks that tell you when to change, and where the pair is; Electrozyme or Motorola digital tattoos (that always remind me of the Bourne Identity series); tweeting bras (to remind one of breast exam monthly); dream inducing headbands; Peekiboo, a cap that lets you see the world through your baby’s eyes; smart pajamas that help you with bedtime entertainment when your kids are ready for bed; i-Grow income hair growth helmet; Drumpants which is Multiple touch pads sewn into a pair of classy jeans give drummers a six-piece kit; and, the coolest of all, Necomimi, a set of feline-like ears that strap on to your head, supposedly measure brainwaves and then move and flick based on how you’re feeling at a given moment!

The Flip Side

But the real truth, atleast in India (as experienced by my dad and me) is a far cry from the vision. At the moment, there is NO healthcare Internet of Things – maybe just a random collection of medical devices and consumer monitoring technologies that don’t quite know what to do with each other! 

Treatment is isolated – diagnosis is gut and experience based (which actually is not necessarily a bad thing – since, given India’s huge population, doctors do get to practice a lot and so see a wide variety of patients); there is very little digitisation even in the best hospitals. (In fact, in the hospital where we treated our dad, even within the 3 buildings in the same health city campus, there are different degrees of digitisation – the newest, the Eyecare hospital introduced EMR maybe 3-4 years ago, and so it’s all modern; the next oldest Multi Specialty Hospital now scans the written prescriptions of the doctor after you come out of the treatment room, (so, atleast keeping some records – though I’m reasonably confident nothing is being done with those scans yet); and the oldest, the Cardio facility I think still does nothing digital)

To answer the question – “why” – I think it really has to do with a basic question of population – in our country, we are too busy solving the Maslow’s Hierarchy lowest rung questions of food, clothing and shelter to spend too much money and time on other stuff. Coupled with legacy systems and old habits dieing hard, it’s a tough combo to beat!

And then there’s the question of reliability – many medical practitioners suspect non manual devices and gadgets – I have met with scepticism on the results of digital BP monitors from all doctors and nurses! (and my 10-times-a-day-BP-measuring dad’s experience shows significance differences between same time readings of manual/ analog BP monitors and the digital ones. Despite repeated calibrations!). So, reliability is suspect.

And, as yet, I’m not even stepping into the whole compliance/ medico-legal/ security aspect of the data

I think this is a bit like the “obvious” steps in customer centricity across functions and kind of business that are visible to everyone now with Big Data, but the fact is that no one is exploiting them – due to lack of vision, corporate lethargy, or even mal-intent in the form of vested interests! (watch out for the next blog on that topic in a few days). The good news – In a PwC study, 95% of healthcare CEOs said they were exploring better ways to harness and manage big data. The bad news – this is not confined to India alone – Read this article on how this state of affairs sadly seems true globally :(.

Maybe it’s just a matter of time – the question is how much time! Meanwhile, for my dad and me, it’s onwards and upwards to the next “o-logist” – this time the ENT specialist for new hearing aids! Yawwwnnnn….

Digital / Social Transformation = CRM = Big Data (About Old Wine in New Bottles, Darwin and Levitt)

26 Jul

Enid Blyton Gypsy

My biggest comfort reading STILL is Enid Blyton’s books. I was reading one the other day, and realised that the word “gypsies” (In Enid Blyton’s debatably bigoted world, Gypsies were the bad guys – generally robbing and stealing!) was now replaced by “travelers”! (read this article on changes to Enid Blyton’s language)

It started me thinking on how concepts evolve with time – and how they get nuanced depending on context.

Look at our world of Social/ Digital Media.

First there was listening, then there was engagement, ofcourse then people started talking about ROI, then folks started talking digital transformation…and now about social integration.

Its a fairly normal evolution – you take piece parts of a whole process, and start attacking it from small angles, then the small piece parts coalese to form a larger part – which you can then make sequential evolution like a process. Then you bring the whole piece together and start talking the big picture – till you then leapfrog into next level applications etc.

We saw this in devices – the whole unification piece arising out of networking -> convergence -> wifi. (I did write an earlier piece on this). The world view that arises from this is that of the super connected/ “always on” world.

The good news though with the whole social/ digital piece is that after a lot of “wandering in the wilderness” and marketers and the C Suite looking upon it as the new kid on the block and not “real” marketing; then viewing it as stand alone another element in the marketing mix; now most folks are realising the ubiquitousness of the medium and figuring that “social business” is almost a way of life – for people personally, and therefore for enterprises. This is leading to integrated social marketing in the true sense of the word. Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism is a good example of a visualisation of an integrated world!

Conversation Prism

Evolutionarily, it first started with social media integration tools – how do you cross post/ make sure you don’t replicate/ undertake SEO for your Social Content etc. A look at some of the tools for this can be had here . But now you have some interesting campaigns that truly integrate many diverse elements so the consumer sees ONE brand/ ONE entity – and so do the employees – and so do the vendors/ suppliers and other stakeholders!

The case with Big Data is a bit similar. While it is greater volume/ velocity/ variety, it is ultimately about crunching vast masses of Data – something that actually gave rise to computers!! Also, if you then start looking at its applications, its the same ole same ole (old wine in new bottles) – CRM being a BIG one. So, ultimately, Big Data helps you compute, quickly and cheaply, thanks to the cloud.

The point, however, is, that its no longer smart to talk “Computing”, or even “Analytics” – you say “BIG Data”; just like you no longer say “Listening” – you say “Digital Transformation” (I’ve seen some folks calling it “Social Integration”, but as the economists and social scientists would know, THAT is more about social/ cultural amalgamation of immigrants into their adopted mileu :).)

But, think about this evolution – Darwin and his theory of natural selection actually applies to the technology/ data front as well! (For those who have forgotten Darwinism – I found this cute animated video tutorial – a bit long, but a nice refresher!). It basically states that living organisms evolved through a process of adaptation to surroundings, following “survival of the fittest” – hence, while computing is still the fossil, Big data is the evolved mammal. I did on my favourite facebook page I fucking love science today see a picture of this amazing fish – which is amphibious!


Coming back to business, in a way Theodore Levitt and his concept of “Marketing Myopia” – implied a bit of an evolutionary path too – from photo paper to duplicating machines to business process and document management (Xerox); from Time Keeping and Weighing Machines to Smarter Planet (IBM); from Petroleum to Energy (Shell); From Fast Food to “I’m Lovin’ It” (McDonald’s); from making movies to “entertainment” (Hollywood) and from paper to “connecting people” (Nokia). It was about evolving your business/ broadening its spectrum to serve your consumers’ basic needs!

marketng myopia

You think about it then – concepts evolve, just as language evolves (etymology being the science of how words evolve – just so you know, “Digital” – seems to have taken the following path : “of or pertaining to a digit or finger” –> “resembling a digit or finger” –> “manipulated with a finger or the fingertips eg a digital switch” –> “displaying a readout in digital form”

etymology of mother

To wind up, think about some stuff that used to be called something else in the olden days :

Motivation = gamification
Beauty parlour = Salon
Step cut (a particular hair style) = Layers
Fund raising = Crowdsourcing
Bribery = Lobbying
Plagiarism = Research 🙂

Some that have changed with the technology: (These are called retronyms):
Phone –> From Landline to mobile
Guitar –> To acoustic/ electric etc.

Some where our influence changed (in India, that implies becoming more American from being more British) or we became more politically correct/ less racist etc..:

Biscuits = Cookies
Toilet = Washroom
Merry Christmas –> Happy Holidays
Negro –> African American
I’m fine, thank u –> I’m good

In the end, evolution notwithstanding, look at where Homo Sapiens has got to, thanks largely to digital/ big data etc etc:

Human Evolution Retro