Interview: An Army of (All)One (Mobile)

By Brian Dolan

allonephoneAllOne Mobile is perhaps the biggest partner Microsoft HealthVault has in mHealth. The Wilkes-Barre, PA-based company has close ties to security solutions provider Diversinet, in which it is a significant investor. AllOne Mobile's HealthVault plaform, steeped in security, has become an attractive mobile PHR solution for a number of Blue Crosses as well as the U.S. Army. mobihealthnews had a chance to catch-up with AllOne Mobile's Director of Sales and Business Development Frank Avignone to discuss the company's relationship to HealthVault, the reason for the growing interest in mHealth, barriers to market for mHealth services and why he thinks an all-in-one approach is better than attacking the verticals.

mobihealthnews: Please explain AllOne Mobile and its relationship to Microsoft HealthVault. Is your relationship with Microsoft HealthVault exclusive on the mobile side?

Avignone: No, we are not exclusive to HealthVault and HealthVault is not exclusive to us as a mobile platform, but, that said right now we are the only horizontal mobile platform for healthcare. You've got BeWell, Vocel and others that are very vertical with disease management or the PDR style solution but we are very horizontal. We are actually working with some of those companies I mentioned to pull their content into AllOne Mobile. So, instead of having to have an Internet-enabled phone, what you would do is have your phone with AllOne Mobile on it and you wanted to find a pill, whether it's one you were taking and wanted to do some research on or what, from your medication list just put in the basic information. We would then send that out with some of your context information, if necessary, like your age or your location, perhaps, and pull back contextual content. That way we don't have to ask questions like, "Is it a red pill?" or "Is it a blue pill?"

It's an IP solution, but you don't need to have a browser. You do need to have a data plan to use AllOne Mobile, but better than 80 percent of phones coming out of the stores have data plans. About 30 percent of the phones sold last December had QWERTY keyboards and of that group about 70 percent were enhanced phones like the iPhone. So we work on any mobile phone as long as you aren't carrying a battery in a bag for it. Screen size is important because otherwise you are scrolling like crazy. People are replacing their phones on average every 12 to 18 months because they are making them so that they fall apart.

We integrated through HealthVault so that if HealthVault account holders would like to pull their health information up through their mobile phones they could. We also can benefit from marketing from other Microsoft partners like CVS other consumer-facing brick-and-mortar storefronts like Walgreens. CVS is actually signing people up to Microsoft's HealthVault at their clinics. At the same time, depending on what the person is there for, if it's not a flu shot or just something really quick, for $65 they may sign them up into AllOne Mobile as well. Also, if you go and sign up for HealthVault, AllOne Mobile will be on the landing page and there will be an explanation there as to what it does and what it can do for you.

mobihealthnews: AllOne developed the platform so that it worked across every mobile platform? Was that accomplished in-house?

Avignone: You bet. It was an undertaking. We actually partnered with a company called Diversinet for that. We invested several million dollars into the company--actually more like double digits in that category. We did all the IP work and used their platform. Their core competency is mobile security and encryption for mobile platforms and applications. They started in the mobile banking industry, but now that that has gone down the tubes all they have left is us: Healthcare. Not a bad gamble.

mobihealthnews: AllOne Mobile's most recent deal was for a trial with the Army. Any details?

Avignone: That's right. They signed a contract for 10,000 soldiers. There's 14,000+ as far as wounded soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq. So they bought 10,000 licenses to run a trial. When we say "pilot" this is a complete project unto itself, but they are looking to see how they can apply this technology to other modalities--not just wounded soldiers.

mobihealthnews: That sounds like a large number of licenses for a pilot. Are most of your trials that large or is this unusual?

Avignone: Well, yes and no. Blue Cross Northeast Pennsylvania took out 350,000 licenses. Blue Cross South Carolina is looking at 1.9 million. BC Massachusetts did much smaller than that--they did 300 to start with because that's all they had to budget with. BC Tennessee is starting out with 50,000. So, it ranges. The Tennessee pilot is a trial through one of the BC subsidiaries that they own. Each one of the Blue's will put money into a for-profit arm that will put then put money into these technologies. So almost every Blue you talk to will have some sort of technology/for-profit arm.

mobihealthnews: Do you make money on these pilot programs?

Avignone: Yes, they are paying us. These are full-contract value. That's what tripped up BC Massachusetts, because they wanted a bunch of licenses and when we first gave them the proposal they realized, "Oh, you want us to pay for this." So, they did see the value and go through with their contract, but we just narrowed the licenses down a bit.

mobihealthnews: What are your barriers to market and is this the year to push mHealth forward?

Avignone: My gut tells me this is absolutely the year to push forward. We have managed a lot of the barriers, but they are becoming lower and lower. For a lot of vendors, the hurdles come from how they developed their applications in the WAP space. We actually have ours in a WAP version, too, but in the broader market if you want to appeal, especially in healthcare, to a market where you run the gamut of mobile phone usage: some people will have enhanced phones like the iPhone but then folks like my dad who is a nuclear particle physicist have a phone that looks like it was invented back in 1903. But they both have a need for [mHealth] so that's converging a bit--we're seeing more Baby Boomers are buying the enhanced phones and using them for more than just a call. As far as healthcare is concerned, when you survey people and ask: "If you could have access to your health record on your mobile phone and use that not only in an emergency but on an ongoing basis: health and wellness, messaging with your doctor, getting health answers questions and managing your family's health records, would you be interested?" We see 100 percent interest.

That seems to be the clear message we have been getting over the past six months: People seem to be in tune with the idea that the mobile phone will be the next home for health information. It goes with you everywhere you go. You may forget your glasses or your wallet. You'll borrow ten bucks for lunch, but you'll turn around and drive 20 miles to get your mobile because that's your life.

mobihealthnews: You said you noticed this turn around in the last six months, what happened in the last six months that got people "in tune with the idea" of mHealth?

Avignone: I think the introduction of some other handsets that do more and because of the advertising for things like music, maps and GPS systems on mobile phones had intensified during the past six months of 2008. We saw a growing intensity leading up to the holidays of both Verizon and AT&T advertising all of the phones with multiple applications in them.

mobihealthnews: Why take an all-in-one approach to mHealth with a more general platform or PHR? Why not attack particular verticals? Wouldn't that make more sense from a marketing perspective?

Avignone: When we looked at the mobile phone space we realized we could attack it from some vertical areas like the messaging for disease management or the messaging for wellness management or therapy, but overall, if we create a secure platform which is HIPAA compliant all of these vendors can now communicate through a secure platform that we have already put the big money into so they can focus on creating their applications for their verticals and not have to concern themselves with HIPAA compliance and security. They can just throw very simple SSL programming on top and be done with it. We take care of the heavy lifting. So instead competing for vertical dominance in this space, we now become the dial tone through which mobile healthcare is communicated.

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