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D.C. mHealth Summit promises international flavor

Mobile health, or mHealth, currently is the hottest buzzword in health IT in the second half of 2010. It’s all about extending the reach of health care providers into areas they can’t get to now.

In the United States, that means extending videoconferencing to remote communities where patients might not be able to come all the way to the physician’s office easily, or monitoring patients remotely via Wi-Fi enabled devices that transmit statistics to a health care provider via the Internet.

In much of the rest of the world, however, mHealth is all about cell phones and about getting health care connected in areas that don’t have land lines or computers. It’s about building a health care system where none exists now, through cell phone text, voice and video connections.

In the U.S., mHealth might be about reducing redundancy in health care, and lowering its cost by enabling patients to participate in their care via wireless connections when face time with a physician isn’t necessarily warranted. In developing countries, however, mHealth is the infrastructure, helping combat disease through basic health care that U.S. citizens take for granted.

“It’s a simple but groundbreaking idea that global wireless networks and mobile devices — whether they be cell phones, smartphones, mobile-enhanced diagnostic devices, you name it — can be powerful vehicles for delivering innovative medical and health services to the farthest reaches of the globe,” said United Nations Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin in a teleconference previewing next week’s mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. “In other words, helping us do what we know what could be done so much more effectively if only we could find a better solution to do it.”

SearchHealthIT will be there among the 2,000 attendees and posting full coverage on our website, including the keynote form none other than Bill Gates, representing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The event promises it will advance mHealth, not only in Americans’ daily lives, but for patients around the world.

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