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Thinking About Health 2.0: Burma Protests Teach Us Why Successful Tech Satisfies Basic Human Needs

The world has been riveted by the massive pro-democracy protests taking placeburma_protests.jpg in Myanmar (also known as Burma).  Once again the brutal regime is cracking down on peaceful protesters.  Once again, it is trying to hide its actions.  However, this time technology is helping people around the world learn about what’s happening in that tiny, often forgotten country.  

A few days ago, the Associated Press had this to say about how people are helping to turn the world’s attention to the protests:

“Cell phones and the Internet are playing a crucial role in telling the world about Myanmar's pro-democracy protests, with video footage sometimes transmitted one frame at a time.  Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday the junta has cut some cell phone service. . . [T]he world has been watching through television and still images smuggled out of Myanmar over the Internet — sometimes . . . one frame at a time. Dramatic images arrive via e-mails to exiled activists and via mobile phone calls to journalists outside the country, also known as Burma.  Hundreds of images are simply posted on the Internet for anyone to see.”


Today we learn that the regime is attempting to stifle communications by cutting off Internet and mobile phone service and hunting down amateur photographers.  

There are many lessons we can learn from this ongoing event.  The most important is that people are willing to fight for freedom – no matter the cost.  

The other is one that those involved in the Health 2.0 movement should be paying close attention to: People use technologies because they enable them to do things more efficiently.   The tools needn’t be high-powered, flashy or supported with venture capital dollars.  If they meet basic human needs, they will be used.

One of the big questions people had at the Health 2.0 conference was this: Which companies will be left standing?  I believe the firms that satisfy people’s basic, human health-related needs will be successful.  Some of these include:

-The need to get health information when they need it in language they understand (Google and Yahoo! are big players in health today because they meet this need)

-The need to have a better and more efficient conversation with your healthcare provider

-The need to find affordable, quality care

-The need to understand how taking a medication will affect your life

-The need to feel that you can take care of your loved ones without breaking the bank or taxing your patience.  

-The need for physicians (and other providers) to feel validated and connected to knowledgeable peers.

Where do you stand Health 2.0 entrepreneurs?  Are you fulfilling basic human health needs with your technology?  Or, are you simply trying to get bought out by the big boys?  I believe that if you can answer the first question in the affirmative, success will come.

What do you think?

2 Comments/Trackbacks

I think that you hit the nail on the head. Keep it simple and iterate on what you are offering people. We're supporting a film startup that needs access to funding and they set their group up here to gain support:

great coverage on Burma

Free Burma!
International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October

International bloggers are preparing an action to support the peaceful revolution in Burma. We want to set a sign for freedom and show our sympathy for these people who are fighting their cruel regime without weapons. These Bloggers are planning to refrain from posting to their blogs on October 4 and just put up one Banner then, underlined with the words „Free Burma!“.

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