Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Industry discussion around mobile health (mHealth) here at #ATA2012

Here at the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) 2012 annual conference, we are seeing a tremendous amount of technology innovation. Today, I attended the Industry Executive Panel 8: mHealth. How does it fit into the current way healthcare is practiced? Participants included: Qualcomm (Don Jones), Nonin, A&D Medical, and Verizon.

The discussion started with the definition of "mHealth" or "mobile health." So many people refer to this as e-health, wireless health, connected health, etc. Not all mobile health is wireless health. Not all wireless health is mobile. So, we're in a transition period where even the basic terminology around mHealth and telemedicine is evolving.

Some of the newer wireless technologies include things like Near Field Communication (NFC): it's very low power consumption, it's inexpensive, and it requires no pairing. As more medical devices and home monitoring devices incorporate wireless communication technologies, we are seeing a revolution in health data transmission over wireless networks.

During the presentation, Don Jones pulled out an AliveCor iPhone ECG. The panelists agreed that the cloud is going to dominate the mHealth space because of the computing processing power that is available through the cloud. The cloud allows clinicians to leverage analytics and data processing.

Don also used ZocDoc as an example of a mobile service that has dramatically improved the workflow for patients. Given that mobile devices include geocentric services (built-in GPS, Wi-Fi triangulation, etc.), these capabilities are enhancing the delivery of health care.

Insurance companies are adopting mHealth technologies as well. Aetna recently purchased iTriage and patients now have access to emergency room wait times at different hospitals. These are some of the services that are designed to improve patient satisfaction scores. The consumerism model is driving much of the innovation that we are seeing in the mHealth industry.

Don used Airstrip Technologies as another example of mHealth that improves clinical workflow for the physician who is monitoring a patient away from the hospital. This has led Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) to sign a large contract with Airstrip.

Health services are turning into a mobile "app." We are seeing symptom checkers becoming more sophisticated. We are seeing call centers evolving into mobile apps.

The discussion moved to the international market where health care access is a huge barrier, but mobile phones are bridging some of these gaps. In India, patients can call a physician by making a "premium" phone call. The telecommunication provider is turning into a health care delivery provider.

Qualcomm has recently launched the medical tricorder contest and has over 170 teams working on making a mobile device that can diagnose 15 diseases. The prize money is $10 million and Qualcomm says that they already know that this type of technology is possible. Will an innovative company know how to solve the puzzle?

Mobile video conferencing solutions like Apple FaceTime are opening up ways for health care providers to communicate with each other and with patients. Video is becoming a standard way of communicating and sharing information. The question is: will the standard for medical video communication be synchronous communication or asynchronous?

This was an excellent session here at ATA 2012 and I'm sure we'll see many more mobile health (mHealth) presentations at ATA as the world of telemedicine and mHealth collide.

ATA 2012
Industry Executive Panel 8: mHealth
5/1/12 at 3 pm

Don Jones, JD
Vice President, Global Strategy and Market Development, Wireless Health
Nonin, A&D Medical, and Verizon

ATA12 coverage is sponsored by HP. HP’s extensive portfolio of products, solutions, services and relationships can help your healthcare organization achieve quality business practices and provide quality patient care.

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