Help at Hand – New mHealth Service Launched by O2 Health

On Monday I attended the launch of Help at Hand a new O2 Health initiative from U.K telecommunications company, O2, intended to improve the lives of carers and sufferers of conditions that require care such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. Help at Hand aims to provide this reassurance or peace-of-mind by connecting people to those they depend on for care.

The Help at Hand service comprises a special handset with a fall detector, GPS tracking, designated ‘safe zones’ and a special one-touch button that links to a 24/7 support centre that can contact loved ones, carers, or the emergency services if help is needed.

If someone suffering from a condition falls over, the handset, which is worn around the neck or in a pocket, alerts the assigned carer or family member. Another example would be if a person suffering from Alzheimer’s walks outside of an designated safe zone the handset using GPS will alert the carer of their location.

Help at Hand - Nikki Flanders photo FINAL
Managing Director, O2 Health, Nikki Flanders

Nikki Flanders, Managing Director, O2 Health is quoted in the news release announcement saying, “The Help at Hand mobile care service gives people who have a health condition or feel vulnerable the confidence to get out and about safe in the knowledge that help is the press of a button away.

“This differs from traditional fixed telephone line ‘telecare’, which gives people help, but only in the confines of their home – trapping them indoors. Meanwhile, carers are reassured they can be called simply and easily if anything should go wrong. It’s all about independence for users and peace-of-mind for carers.”

According to Carers Trust, who were present at the event, there are seven million unpaid carers in the UK compromising of volunteers, friends and family members. O2 Health research found they collectively spend 196 million hours worrying about the people they’re caring for. The Help at Hand offering has been introduced to eleviate worry for carers and give peace-of-mind to those with a condition allowing them to leave their homes without worry.

Why no app you may ask

The Help at Hand device

O2 Health has spent considerable time researching potential users and also conducted studies among 200 people that the Help at Hand service would benefit.

Through this analysis they found that they preferred a dedicated device as opposed to using a smartphone app. Not everyone uses smartphones so the cost investment of buying one coupled with the learning barrier of using it would disincentive some potential users of the service. An app hasn’t been ruled out completely however.




The Opportunity in Digital Health for Mobile Providers

According to O2 this is the UK’s first telecare service built around mobile technology but I suspect more mobile providers will follow suit. Mobile companies like O2 have a huge opportunity to take advantage of the oncoming digital health revolution in numerous ways. They have the scale, technology and the infrastructure to offer health and wellbeing services to new and current customers positioning themselves as a provider of healthcare as well as a communications company.

The Help at Hand service is just one of many ways in which O2 Health can help people live happier, healthier and longer lives, and create additional revenue streams for its business of course. It will be interesting to see how its offerings develop particularly in the consumer health space also. Kudos for taking a first mover advantage.


  1. I can not get this handphone,none in your stores,Boots,Tesco and Sainsbury have no knowledge of it.
    please tell me where to get this and how much will it cost monthly?

  2. I cant get this handset any where,Boots,Tesco and Sainsbury have no knowedge pf it.Your Ilford in Essex has none,so please tel me where to get one and how much will it cost monthly

  3. Just purchased this for my elderly mother and interested to see how it works in practice.

    She never managed to use a standard phone in her 70s, now in her 80s I spent weeks and weeks trying to teach her to make a call on a smartphone, even setting me up as a home screen short cut so she only has to press my face (!) She struggled terribly with unlocking the phone and couldn’t master the idea of ‘tapping’ the screen (she’s had a stroke so her fingers are weak). She’s fully mentally sound, just not au fait with technology.

    When I found the latest smartphone shoved in a corner and gathering dust, I told her about Help at Hand (all I care about is that she can contact someone, anyone, if she needs to. Me, 999, a call handler, anybody). She refused it point blank, as it’s “too complicated”. Well let’s see, as I’ve bought it, have it here, and am taking it to her this weekend.

    She’d never, ever cope with an app – as she can’t manage a smartphone. But this little gadget is small, light, discrete and maybe she’ll be willing to try it… and allow me to sleep easier.

  4. Me again, pretty much leaving this here in case anyone’s Googling around and interested!
    (Hope this isn’t too long.)

    The good:

    1. 84 year old Mother loves the size and weight of it. It’ll be a long time before she ever agrees to wear it as a pendant (“I’m not that old”), but she loves it as handbag size.
    2. The buttons are easy to use, but do need a definite ‘click’, which is a lot easier for her than soft-touch or touchscreen.
    3. She can use the blue help button easily.
    4. She wants to use the speed dial buttons (more on that later), and wanting is a good thing. It means she’s not throwing the phone in the corner and ignoring it.
    5. Mum lives in a poor reception area. I’d never, ever have bought her 02 usually, but the coverage is holding out okay.
    5. The call handling staff are absolutely lovely, and I feel reassured they could cope with an emergency call from her.
    6. I love being able to check on the GPS and check she’s where she’s supposed to be (Yes, she’s a grown up and makes her own decisions, but failure to be at certain places at certain times suggest a problem.)
    7. I’m not tied into a year-long O2 contract.

    The downside:

    1. The hands free speaker phone when you press the help button is very crackly.
    2. Add to that the very heavy Irish accents of the call handlers.
    (Nothing wrong with an Irish accent, or any accent, but my mother is an elderly white woman from Essex with minimal exposure to other accents. The fact the call handlers’ accents are quite distinct, and the hands free speaker quite crackly, mother struggled terribly to understand what was being said.)
    3. The date and time on the phone are very small. The main reason she carries the phone is as a clock, so the tiny display may mean she doesn’t bother carrying it.
    4. The lock/unlock button at the side could have been a little bigger, or brightly coloured. That would have been helpful.
    5. After making an outgoing call the screen displays a message saying how much credit is left. The message is stuck there and there’s no easy way to get rid of it or get back to the home screen. The blasted thing literally locks up the phone. The only way to get rid of it is to press the “X” button three times to move you step-by-step back to the home screen – exactly the kind of memory test I didn’t want for her. (I’m going to ring O2 and ask if there’s some better away around this.)
    6. The whole thing is a little on the pricey side for what it is. I work in social care and get the feeling O2 are trying to target social care funding, rather than individuals like me and mother.

    At the moment I couldn’t recommend Help at Hand. It’s on the way to being an answer, but it’s not the answer yet. But it’s better than nothing, and I’ll take that as a step forward.

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