Internet training for older people vs works-out-of-the-box mobiles

Echoing last week’s “the world has moved on” post on the WSD, the 3G Doctor (David Doherty) has an excellent opinion piece on how AGE UK should spend the money given to it by Google for making it to the final six in the Global Impact Challenge that supports British non-profits using technology to tackle tough problems.

In discussing Age UK’s current plans to use the money to teach older people about the internet he says: “For the £500,000 AGE UK would spend on training 16,000 seniors they could give away (at retail price!) 10,000 of the latest designed for senior 3G CameraPhones from Doro. Works straight out of the box. No training required.”

Elsewhere on his site he has an interesting take too on the reasons behind O2’s announcement last week.

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  1. Ken clemens

    Agree with comment, bit of a health warning though in that “works straight out of the box” is good, but from our local experience of such products ( including phones), you may be surprised at the level of support/ reassurance/ guidance is still required by many.

  2. As a major supplier of Easy Access Phones with the Georgie App, Ken you are dead right. Obviously in years to come as those who age have some computer or technical skills it may be easier, but that’s the future not now……

  3. Cathy

    Agreeing with both Ken and Norman …hmmm … “works out of the box” makes a big assumption doesn’t it? we are all exactly the same – except when we aren’t!

  4. Hi Ken, Norman and Cathy,

    I make the “big assumption” based on first hand experience of Doro Easy to Use Phones. They do work directly out of the box because the likes of Tesco have been smart enough to work out that you don’t sell them directly to Patients but you direct your marketing efforts at engaged carers (who do the unboxing because they can see the value in a device that has been designed to meet the needs of the Patient that they care for).

    It’s too complicated to explain in this short reply comment thread but the evidence is clear: Doro Easy to Use phones are one of the most popular Handsets sold in the hyper competitive and very affluent UK and Irish mobile markets but they are produced by a very small Swedish Manufacturer:

    A big problem is that a lot of people presume that all “such products” are created equal (they’re not). They also think that it’s going to be some walk in the park engaging with senior citizens and creating services that they will want to use (that’s not either).

    Of course none of this means it can’t be done, we shouldn’t try to do it or that there is limited value in helping seniors to go mobile.

    My advice is to look to markets around the world where there have been success stories and find out what they’ve done to make a difference. Japan (the world’s most senior market) should be the first stop as there the vast majority of senior citizens already use Mobile Data Services.

    Also don’t just think of mobile as a mobile phone. Instead try to think about it as the newest mass media as this will help you appreciate the opportunity to connect things that should be connected eg. Smoke Alarms (, Care Monitors (, etc.

    • Hi David,

      To support your comments about looking around the rest of the world, I was talking this morning to Dr Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, who was extremely enthusiastic about the use of technology to improve healthcare delivery. Like you, he also commented that to see how to employ technology most effectively it was necessary to learn from abroad – on his regular overseas travels he sees other countries increasingly pulling ahead of the UK in routine use of technology to deliver improved patient outcomes. As he explained, without lots of clinicians and other caregivers, they don’t have the option of endless debate; they just get on and deliver it. Intriguingly, and I hope I’m briefly summarising our conversation appropriately, he suggested that we in the Royal Society of Medicine hold a health technology event to help educate the UK on the advances taking place in the rest of the world so we could start catching up!

  5. Cathy

    Charles – quick fix?

    The Society has a Facebook page – which is rather empty – how about someone having a good look around and liking/following some organisations that are delivering solutions. There are people like mHealth Alliance who are very active on Facebook and they are reporting almost daily on implementations of technology in healthcare in some of the toughest situations. Even if our field of interest is not mHealth but telecare or telehealth, seeing that things are happening is very inspirational.

    I know that doesn’t provide a full answer and it would then need work to increase the accessibility to that inspiration for those not on Facebook and to learn from it to adapt to other AT areas – but it could also be the foundation material for an event

    • Hi Cathy,
      great idea. I’m not a great Facebook user myself (LinkedIn seems hard enough work) so I’d never got as far as the RSM page before – I can see what you mean, now I have. I will put your excellent proposal to the powers that be. Don’t expect a swift response though, especially as it’s holiday time!

  6. Hi Charles,

    “he suggested that we in the Royal Society of Medicine hold a health technology event to help educate the UK on the advances taking place in the rest of the world so we could start catching up!”

    There are already lot’s of great mHealth events going on where this type of information is being shared:

    The in Washington DC is a great one as it has a whole area dedicated to the senior mobile opportunity (contributed to by the AARP and Samsung amongst others).

    I would be very keen to contribute to any work you’re doing there at the RSM with a presentation on the innovations we’re involved with and are tracking around the globe but don’t underestimate the UK’s leadership:

    > Advanced mobile markets like S Korea that one might expect to be natural leaders in this area are impacted by out of date regulatory frameworks that prevent innovation in this area.

    > Emerging markets where mHealth competes against little have their own challenges eg. Mobile advertising is exporting first world disease, government corruption (and telco ownership/abuses) undermines trust in mobile networks for private information, lack of regulation creates a wild west where trust can’t even begin, etc.

    > The presence of the NHS drives standards up because all innovative private companies need to first and foremost exceed the public sector offering in order to compete.

    > The UK has an incredibly advanced emergency service that sets standards across the world and for over a decade (actually since Nokia designed a phone that even while locked could accidentally dial 999!) they’ve been using mobile technology like Caller ID, Location, M2M fleet tracking, etc.