Anonymous commentator applies some concepts from the technology adoption life cycle to consider progress – or not – in the UK’s telehealth market.
Being a market leader has one key responsibility: to grow the overall market. The market leader cannot make significant growth by focusing on taking business from its smaller competitors as there is not sufficient business to be gained. Market growth is achieved by promoting and proving the value to be had from innovative products and by the innovation of the applications, mainstream and niche, for which their products can be used.
So let’s look at what has happened in telehealth in the UK…
In my opinion Tunstall have done an average job of promoting their Genesis system over the past few years. They have used their marketing muscle to promote telehealth primarily to their sales agents, the community alarm centres, who have attempted to sell a telehealthcare story to the PCTs. This has had a poor impact because only a small percentage of the products sold are actually supporting patients; most are still on shelves waiting for implementation. (Birmingham / Pfizer; 200 systems and about 25 in use after 18 months!) These sales agents may be experts in telecare but their understanding of clinical applications of telehealth lacks the necessary consultative approach.
Bearing in mind that the market leader has now moved onto a new product, the question arises as to who now has the responsibility to support the implementation of these dormant Genesis systems? The market leader has no incentive and the customers have limited future growth paths for this 1st generation product.
With little product in use and the substance behind their case studies limited, how will the early adopters of telehealth be able to justify the financial return and the mainstreaming of telehealth? It’s not the Genesis system that will be regarded as less than effective but the whole of telehealth.
After many pilots why are the majority of early adopters not mainstreaming in view of the fact that a successful implementation will give an ROI in about 4 to 6 months? And will the budget holders give yet more money to unproven projects and to teams that have failed in the effective execution of telehealth?
The telehealth industry has been done a disservice – the use of telehealth should be far more pervasive by now.
A few early adopters are experiencing the levels of service provided by the non-dominant telehealth providers and they are acting as references for today’s first time buyers. As awareness of the alternatives spread it makes it increasingly difficult for the market leader to continue to sell by implying that security and future value depends on going with the market leader.
However, the opportunity still exists for Tunstall to move away from its sales target fixated agenda and behave like a market leader should – to put in sustained investment over several years and take the responsibility to grow the whole market.