Mobile health: living in a parallel universe

Can mobile health be compared to superheroes? According to Gustavo Pratt they can. In his latest article, Gustavo takes a look at the two parallel universes: the real world and the virtual world and explores which reality healthcare fits into.

Stan Lee. Bob Kane. Jerry Siegel. Joe Shuster.

These are not the names of Doctors conducting an important clinical trial at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York or the Mayo Clinic in Rochester; and there is not going to be an after their names. Actually these names might not even resonate in your mind, but if I tell what they created you will know for sure. They are the creators of the most beloved superheroes in the world: Spiderman, Batman and Superman. But why begin an article that talks about mobile health by quoting names from comic books? If you think about it, it is very simple indeed.

They created an environment where the superheroes could live in yet still be normal human beings; they create parallel realities and secret identities so our heroes could live in the real world and also have a parallel life as superhuman characters.

Two different lives, but at the same time: one life.

“Why begin an article that talks about mobile health by quoting names from comic books?”

These writers were really ahead of their time, by trying to explain the complexity of living in two different realities at the same time. Today, 1.11 billion people are living the same thing: two lives in one body. That number talks about the people that have an active Facebook account. iTunes has 500 million users and Whatsapp has 250 million.

We are living a real life and also, at the same time, a virtual one.

Our virtual worlds consist of our iPhones, iPads, the messaging system in Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, and a lot of other applications that today complete our life.

So where does our health live? In which environment, in which life? The virtual or the real?

We are real; the symptoms of a disease appear or happen in the real world. But, we are using technology to develop and advance drugs to finally beat cancer or HIV or even malaria and tuberculosis drugs, to search deep inside our bodies in order to crack the human genome; we are using Google to find out more about the drugs that doctors prescribe us, we are using social media to share comments and even recommend doctors and treatments; we are using the internet to get more educated as patients about diseases we can control. We have apps on our mobile devices that are giving us a conscience about our health.

“So where does our health live? In which environment, in which life? The virtual or the real?”

So our health has become (as has so many other things in our lives) about mobile and digital. We are adapting to this new digital environment using the apps that innovative companies have created to help us manage our health, like companies such as Hello Health. This Quebec base company has develop a digital EMR that works with the doctor bringing him all that he needs, also in the same platform the doctor can have secure messaging, the possibility to do videoconferencing and adding everything to the patient record, but here’s the most interesting twist. Hello Health is actually a new channel that allows the patient to have a direct line with the doctor, so the patient has his side and the doctor his and they share the patients’ issues through the platform. So in other words, the doctor and patient are connected over the internet to find solutions to health problems that the patient might have. Hello Health has proven that it is the perfect tool to manage chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity and hypertension as well as help patient understand their disease and provide a trusted education that comes directly from a doctor.

To give you another example of this parallel universe were healthcare is now living, let me talk to you about Mango Health. This company has developed an app to crack the most important question in pharma history: adherence.

The app will remind you about taking your meds at the right time. By doing this you get points in the system that you can change for stuff, such as discount cards in department stores, donations to different foundations, etc. So by getting something to patients from the tangible world, the real one, we are keeping them adherent and on top of their meds using something from the digital world, something from that parallel universe; so our health today actually lives in both of these two realities.

As strange as it might seem, applied technology, such as apps and software are helping us become more adherent to our drug treatments and to take our health more seriously. These intangibles are making us more conscious about diets, exercise, good foods, lifestyles and medications. This virtual world has created a new opportunity for us to stay healthy, to understand that everything we do will affect our health, and that we can use every tool in our reach to help us stay healthy, until there are superheroes that will take care of health.

“This virtual world has created a new opportunity for us to stay healthy…”

From the parallel universe, here are five tips to help us get healthy using mobile technology:

1) Be curious: everyday a new health app goes online, so investigate, be curious and download it. There are a lot that can help you manage your health and help your doctor manage it with you.

2) Don’t be afraid of the information: information is not only power, today information is health. By capturing health information in apps, the doctor can read about the lives of patients and help them get the exact treatment they need.

3) Share: advanced mhealth apps and software help doctors and patients share information using every single technology device. With such a platform, we can manage health and really create data that will help us in the future.

4) Unite your parallel universes: at the end of the day, we live in the real world. We have to use technology available to advance humanity, so merge the worlds into one and we will be healthier and with more knowledge of diseases that sometimes are advancing faster than us.

5) Innovate: never stop thinking of what is coming next. Never stop using technology, because using what is within reach will help us get better and get information for the entire human race.

No matter if you are a doctor, a healthcare professional or a patient, you are already living in this parallel universe that will help your health in more ways you can even imagine.



About the author:

“Innovation distinguishes a leader from a follower.”

Gustavo Pratt has always been on the quest of innovation, change and challenge in the status quo of pharma advertising. His story is very rich and solid in both the creative and strategic environments. He started his career in advertising at BBDO Mexico where he worked on the Pepsi, Gamesa and FedEx accounts. After that, he joined Ammirati Puris Lintas and was in charge of accounts like GE, Nestlé chocolates, Tetra Pak, and Bayer. Later he worked for Bancomer, Sonrics candy, Janssen-Cilag, Volkswagen and McDonald’s at DDB. At Saatchi & Saatchi, he launched SKY Satellite TV in Mexico. Finally, he worked for Young & Rubicam as Creative Director for AT&T and AT&T Latam, Danone and Phillip Morris. Then he ventured as a partner in CMV Advertising (small creative boutique that later turn into a full agency) where he worked for Bally Total Fitness Gyms, Starbucks, Royal & SunAlliance, Reebok, Xerox and Pfizer (Viagra, Detrol, Dostinex & Norvasc). And there a relationship started with GSW to handle the Lilly accounts for Diabetes and CNS, which enabled recognition for the agency in the marketplace and set the course of becoming a full healthcare ad agency.

After participating in three Global Creative Exercises for GSW, Gustavo was “abducted” by GSW to become the VP International Creative Director, responsible for organizing and participating in the Global Creative Waves; also been the link internationally to keep the creative teams together, inspiring them to do great and liberating work. He worked for the global brands of the Lilly Diabetes Franchise, Renagel, Saflutan and Byetta, etc. He created the Global Diabetes Franchise Campaign for Lilly, The Bydureon Global Campaign and also on the Zyprexa and Relprevv global campaigns. He also did creative training for the GSW offices around the world, coordinating creative ideation, execution and production. Then he was selected to lead the new GSW agency in Mexico as General Manager and led the agency to have more 30 brands in 2 years. After that, Gustavo joined the Sudler&Hennessey team as managing director and taking the agency into new creative territory.

Now, following in the footsteps of many entrepreneurs in the industry, Gustavo has decided to open his own agency: *Asterisco. His agency will focus on creative innovation to push the pharma advertising world forward. *Asterisco is currently working with the following clients: AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Genzyme, Lundbeck, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Stendhal, 3M, Liomont, Biomédica de Referencia and Alestra.

What are the benefits of using virtual realities in mhealth apps to further support patients?