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A Physician's Perspective: Meaningful Use of Health Technology

Dec 27 2012   11:41PM GMT

A few thoughts from mHealth Summit 2012

Posted by: DrJosephKim
mhealth, mHealth devices, mHealth Summit

I attended the mHealth Summit in D.C. a few weeks ago.  This was the first year where HIMSS was involved as coordinator and owner of the conference. The three day event was full of excitement and energy about the rapid expansion and adoption of mobile technologies in health care. I could write pages about what I saw, but I’ll just share a few thoughts:

Global health: The use of mobile technologies in developing countries will significantly bridge health care gaps. Many patients in these countries may not be able to afford standard medical care (or they simply lack access to providers), but they can get to a mobile phone almost anywhere. You don’t have to own a mobile phone – there are local stands and huts where you can pay per minute to use a mobile phone. The technology and infrastructure is available in many areas to make remote interaction with a health care professional possible. Although this may sound fairly simple, it’s providing a wealth of value to those patients who need diagnostic HIV testing or simple treatments like antibiotics to treat serious infections, prenatal vitamins to prevent birth defects, or immunizations to prevent diseases. There are many doctors and nurses all around the world who are willing to volunteer a bit of time in front of a computer to remotely treat patients in developing nations. Mobile technology is paving the way to make this a reality.

Empowering patients: So many people have smartphones or tablets. We’re all constantly connected to the Internet and sharing information with others through social media platforms and other means of digital communication. We’re surrounded with digital technology that can educate and empower patients across all ages. Kids aren’t just playing smartphone games. They’re interacting with health apps even if they don’t know it. A great example is the Magic Vision Band-Aid app that brings Disney characters alive when a child puts a Band-Aid on. Now, a scrape or cut isn’t so bad, especially if you’re going to have your favorite character come to life to entertain you while your boo-boo heals.

More data: Health IT isn’t just about electronic health records. Patients are using self-monitoring gadgets like Fitbits to monitor their activity, diet, exercise, calories, and even their disease management. We’re swimming in so much data that we don’t know what to do with all of this information. The cloud will provide the platform for health care data analytics and every mobile device will have access to the cloud. The technology powering these gadgets will change rapidly in 2013, though many of them seem crude and rudimentary now.

The mHealth Summit was truly a blast. I enjoyed speaking about the role of social media in the context of a digital policy within a health care organization. The Tweetup sponsored by Imprivata was a great social gathering where some people learned how to tweet. The exhibit hall was full of interesting organizations, including those working in health gaming and medical devices. If you missed the mHealth Summit this year, I hope you’ll make it in 2013!

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