May 9, 2010

Next-Gen Mobile Carrier: Magee


Everyone and his brother know that carriers like Verizon, ATT and T-Mobile are the giants who empower people to get "Mobile."

However unless someone in your family has been hurt in some serious way, you may not know of another next-gen Giant carrier who empowers people to get mobile after they have been rendered immobile. You probably don't know about Magee.

What are we talking about? Carriers that help you get mobile versus a 50-year old institution that will carry you to become mobile, again. It's an important difference.

We can all relate to the Verizon ad campaign of the ordinary guy who asks the other person on the line, "Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?" A question we all take for granted today.


At Magee, ordinary people also ask questions, "Can I walk again now? Can I tie my shoe again now? Can I dance again now? Can I do any of the things that my loved ones and I took for granted before I had my spinal cord injury, stroke, or brain injury after the event, accident, or condition which took my mobility away?"

Magee is "that" kind of carrier. Their therapists, nursing staff and physicians will literally carry people -- on their backs if necessary -- so that their patients might be able to teach themselves how to how to walk again; how to become mobile, again.

Just as Nokia, the iPhone and the Blackberry mobile device revolution has made us no longer dependent on the home phone, desktop or even phone booths (remember them?) the Magee Rehabilitation Center has revolutionized physical, occupational, performance, speech, recreational and psychological therapy so that people don't have to be dependent on others for everything to live productive lives again. They prepare them in a way that few other healthcare facilities are set up to do. All they ask is one thing; that their patients and their loved ones believe. More specifically, they urge their patients "to BELIEVE in a way back" so that they can once again live happy independent lives, on their terms.


What does this have to do with the telephony and mobile social media business?

More than you ever imagined..

Why mobile? Almost everyone now has one in some form, shape or size. Cell phone penetration is deeper than either laptops or desktops are on an individual basis. Mobile represents the future. The increasing ease of mobile and mobile apps will spur usage better than other web-based platforms.

Like Magee is, Mobile Media should be thinking how important outpatient care is and begin to see how it can help the millions outpatients across the country to Believe. Magee is a model for people in the mobile media business to consider how they can help people in the outpatient community overall; a huge market void there that only mobile media could fill.

Magee's prowess and expertise in delivering quality outpatient services is only too rare. While many healthcare facilities boast about the quality of service to those inpatient programs, many outpatient programs are too often considered the red-headed stepchildren of the healthcare business. Magee and its 3 outpatient centers are a Petri dish for people who believe they can regain their mobility.

Let's face it. Outpatient can be a blessing or a curse. Created by the healthcare insurance industry, there is nothing better than to go in for a one-day outpatient procedure and then go back to the safety of home. Sounds great. That's not the problem. Our concern comes in before and after the procedure. Leading up to an appointment, is there concern and worry about that appointed day? Very often. Can that fear of the unknown create problems which complicate the original diagnosis? Absolutely. Is there a system in a place to help people easily connect with others and various shared-experience support groups? Rarely, if ever.

About 595,800 establishments make up the healthcare industry; they vary greatly in terms of size, staffing patterns, and organizational structures. About 76 percent of healthcare establishments are offices of physicians, dentists, or other health practitioners.

Although hospitals constitute only 1 percent of all healthcare establishments, they employ 35 percent of all workers. Yet the biggest growth category in the healthcare industry is from outpatient care centers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics while hospital staff growth continues at a 10% clip per year, as detailed below outpatient staff growth are roughly 4X that figure.


The question is whether that is enough when you consider that hospital outpatient to inpatient ratios can range from 20 to 1 to 50 to 1 depending on the healthcare facility. There are millions of people stuck on hold between appointments, and/or are rushed through the system so quickly that it raises the question of how well is outpatient care being managed.

Could a compliance-based social media tool offset the pressure for those who can't but must wait?

As the chart below indicates, spending on efficient and effective homecare healthcare receives less than 5% of the spending. Consider for a moment the millions of people in America today in outpatient programs of one type or another who may very well be immobile before their appointed date or are essentially shut in permanently due to their specific illness. Then think about how mobile-based social media could transform the lives of so many who might be alone. What benefit would come out of knowing there is someone or a group of people at hand through one's handheld device who can help them through the night?

There are too many examples to point to. The expectant mother who is in and out of the hospital in 24 hours after giving birth with their new baby. Or the person with a spinal cord injury whose only connection with their provider is to deal with the admin person at the health practice; whose job seemingly appears to be to block off any connection to their physician until the appointed date. And then, come the appointed date, after waiting an hour or more in the waiting room all they get is 10 minutes with their doctor after all. What a nightmare.


While the internet has increased the amount of medical data available to consumers to help them take more control of their healthcare options, many companies such as Google Health, MSN Health, WebMD, Yahoo Health and others provide so much data that researching the proper solution is overwhelming in and of itself. People prefer digital "Word of Mouth;" social media-based chat between people who are going through the same issues that they are in real time.


Time Magazine's June 2009 special HEALTH ISSUE proclaimed, "It's All About Prevention." You can't argue with that. But according to last week's New York Times Magazine (4/18/10) special "WELLNESS ISSUE", titled, "The SCIENCE of LIVING a HEALTHY LIFE" (their CAPS) not one word in the issue focused on how mobile technology could improve the "wellness" of people in outpatient situations.

This does not make Time's or the Paper of Record's special issues any less useful. It simply means that no one has thought about it. That said, given Steve Jobs' own experience in the hospital last year and as an outpatient, is it only a matter of time before the inventor of the iPhone devices a plan to transform the health care business in the same way that he has transformed the computer, music and telecommunications business?

Must Mr. Jobs be the poster boy for healthcare innovation just as he has been for all things digital since the 1970s? Is there no one else out that sees the connectivity for doing well by doing good? Thankfully there is. His name is Mr. Jerry Segal, the Ombudsman and spiritual leader of Magee whose leadership is taking this world-class institution to new levels of quality in inpatient and outpatient care. (Stay tuned to our follow-up article on Mr. Segal's own amazing story in our next issue.)


As visionaries such as Mr. Jobs and Mr. Segal would agree, it's time that the healthcare and mobile media industries rethink how they have been operating. They should begin by asking how well are they communicating with their patients and supporting them so that their patients do not feel that they are being "hung (out-patient-ed) out to dry."

Included in The Times' issue is a reprint of a quote from Deles M. "Toby" Cosgrove, MD, Cleveland Clinic CEO and President, where he stated quite frankly, "We are in the sickness business. We need to get into the health business." Consider what increases in wellness we would have on decreasing healthcare insurance costs if mobile media was to play a larger part in outpatient care programs.

As mobile takes over all other media, as it sucks up most or all of the ad $$ once earmarked for TV, Radio, Print, OOH and DR, now is the time for the industry to set some best practices in place to help "im-mobilers" with a hand through their hand-held device.

What does that mean? Create a Facebook, Skype, Chat, Wikipedia, AMA, twitter mashup which conforms to healthcare industry compliance-based standards. Each person would be given a free account based on their desire to join. The tool would be independently hosted and supported by donations from each healthcare facilities supporters. In essence the individualized healthcare-focused product would empower users to keep in touch with their virtual neighbors through a mobile-based social media platform.

Located just a stone's throw from the Liberty Bell, Constitution Hall and where the Declaration of Independence was signed, Magee is the 21st century living proof of our collective desire to be free, independent and mobile.

Like America itself, their strength to lead comes from their desire to BELIEVE.


(Located in Philadelphia's cradle of independence, the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital is one of 14 government-funded model programs for spinal cord injury therapy. Among other things, Magee partners with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to offer the NeuroRecovery Network.

It's a regional institution that people from all walks of society are sent to by their health care providers once they have been through an experience which changed their lives, and the lives of those in their family, immeasurably. Their focus is to rehabilitate the seriously injured person so that they can live their lives on their own terms. Part of their success has been their intense focus on delivering the best outpatient experience in the entire healthcare industry).

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