Perspectives from mHealth events
Over the last few weeks, we attended two important mobile heath events – mHealthcon and mHealth Summit. Each event highlighted the growing impact of smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices on the delivery and administration of healthcare and the collaboration between the patient and caregiver.
mHealthcon which was held in New Brunswick, New Jersey on December 1st saw the confluence of key medical and pharmaceutical stakeholders, technology enthusiasts and mhealth start-ups. The event showcased key trends in next generation mHealth apps and the impact of mobile technology and wearable devices in the healthcare delivery and process efficiency. RapidValue participated in the event as part of the Top Innovator Showcase.
The inaugural keynote address was delivered by Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the mHealth Alliance Partnership who laid out the roadmap of adoption, proliferation and global opportunity. Tom highlighted the role of mHealth apps for collecting data, digitalizing, transmitting and analyzing the information to improve the quality and speed of health care delivery. According to Tom, “marrying the collection of health data with wireless connectivity can mean new health care options for people who aren’t able to get to a doctor.”
Various speakers highlighted the impact of mobile health technology in collecting, documenting, distributing and managing medical information, managing patient care and streamlining scheduling and payments. Some of the popular tools, according to many of the participants, are text messaging tools which make communication easier and faster between doctors and patients, mobile video which makes remote health care a reality, and wearable devices used for real-time monitoring of a range of health conditions and parameters and transmiting data to handsets using ultra – low power.
The industry specialists also expressed their concerns over security and regulatory issues. Another challenge that was highlighted was the difficulty in demonstrating a measurable value proposition as very often the key benefit of most mobile products is prevention or healthcare cost reduction.
mHealth Summit, organized by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in partnership with the mHealth Alliance, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and NIH – saw the participation of 3,600 delegates from across the globe. The conference discussed the dramatic changes happening today in the health sector due to adoption of mobile technology.
RapidValue marked its presence at the Event as an exhibitor.
While the conference highlighted the potential of mobile health technology to improve health care quality, enhanced patient support and cost savings, speakers also acknowledged that health sector is far behind other industries when it comes to the adoption of mobile technology.
One key highlight of the Event was the release of the first-ever mHIMSS Mobile Technology Survey, which revealed that 38 percent of healthcare organizations had a formal strategy or policy regarding the use of mobile devices. And another 51 percent said they were developing a policy, according to the new mHIMSS, a subgroup of HIMSS that officially launched on the first of December, 2011.
The event reflected dramatic progress in the mHealth sector. While last year’s event discussed the potential of mobile healthcare to improve access and quality, this year’s discussions were mostly on how to get doctors, patients and other health care associates to use hundreds of mobile health apps already reaching the market.
Various presenters demonstrated and talked about mHealth apps for care diagnosis, simplifying healthy eating improving public health and engaging consumers. mHealth is not just used for maintaining fitness, but also addressing chronic diseases. There were some very interesting presentations which demonstrated the impact of mHealth applications especially in under developed countries. For instance, one presenter showcased how mHealth project has been successfully implemented to address serious health threats like AIDS. According to the presenter, text messaging significantly improved adherence to antiretroviral drug regimens (62% compliance versus 50% in the control group) and suppress the viral load (57% versus 48% in the control group). The project is estimated to generate $10 million in net savings over 3 years and break-even in year 2.
Other transformational developments which seemed promising were in the area of biometric remote monitoring which will dramatically transform remote monitoring and distant health care services. There was a lot of interest in wearable mobile devices which has generated significant interest amongst enterprises and consumers in sports and fitness segment. Another hot area is cloud based mobile technology that is poised to improve patient care, clinical services, pharmaceutical management and billing and administration. There was even the promise of a “$100 mobile-to-cloud DNA sequencer”. This was shown where a swab was taken from a subject, and then dabbed to a device connected to a mobile phone, and uploaded via an app, to a cloud based computing engine for complete sequencing.
The event also discussed various challenges limiting the growth of the mobile health sector. Though we see increasing interest from investors and entrepreneurs, there are challenges in pricing and business models. As one speaker pointed out, “the challenge is to make mobile health tools relevant, affordable and culturally sensitive to the patients who stand to benefit the most from the technology.” Continuous innovation and cost effectiveness will help win the trust and confidence of doctors and patients in adopting mHealth. Many speakers were of the opinion that governments and hospitals should introduce incentives and tax benefits to encourage the adoption of mobile technology by physicians. Usability and security will also be key drivers that will define the future market for mHealth apps.
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