How Nokia’s Health gadgets fit into the bigger picture

Nokia published a case study the company did in Taiwan about “Telemedicine”. Basically, it’s the concept of connecting the rural parts of countries with major medical centers from where the experts could advise or even diagnose patients using a video and audio link to the distanced facility. Of course, an on the ground team would need to be present at any cost in the village.

Nokia identified a few key problems about “telemedicine”, that are: payment for service, the infrastructure, regulatory rules and, of course, patient acceptance. While on the segment of payments Nokia doesn’t give any solutions, the case study notes that such a solution could reduce the time doctors spend on transport by 1.5h per day. In terms of infrastructure, Nokia suggests using the combination of already available wire connections between major centers, and mobile connections for distanced locations. Regulatory rules aren’t something this study is about, but in the segment of patient acceptance, Nokia posted some interesting stats.

For example, 57% patients described their experience with “tele doctor” as average, 36% as excellent and 7% below average. While the case study was conducted, a villager from Taiban was bitten by a snake and his condition wasn’t suitable for transferring him to a bigger city for treatment. The nurse in the village used the TeleHealth System and connected with emergency services to find the best way to treat the villager until his condition improves for transfer.

Another interesting thing, that also reveals a bit why the health gadget business is important to Nokia, is the figure that shows the reasons for remote visits. The two most common causes for visits, that combined are the reason for almost 50% of the visits, are “high blood pressure” and “heart”.

Nokia suggest, while analyzing the results, that patients from these two categories “could be candidates for the addition of monitoring devices for blood pressure, heart rate, and weight. These devices could enable remote data recording and analysis.”

Coincidence or not, Nokia Technology offers BPMs, a watch with heart rate monitor and scales. When the “health digital revolution” starts, and more and more countries decide to upgrade their public health services, Nokia seems to be the player that offers an end-to-end solution – from the network over which the communication will take place, over software that will be used for communication, to gadgets that will offer more info about patients.

To me this looks like a good reason for acquiring Withings and further developing the whole portfolio of health gadgets. I have the feeling that Nokia is being a little inert in Health, because of the wait time for 5G and broader health investments. For example, Nokia Tech executives said that we shouldn’t expect a lot of new Health devices, because the portfolio is well rounded, and that the focus will be on services (software).

Nokia is carefully waging every move in terms of Digital Health, even though I would, as a consumer, want a broader product portfolio to choose from. All in all, alongside networks and phones, we can also expect exciting news from in the segment of health from Nokia.

You can download the full case study, after signing up, here.