2010 mHealth Summit, Washington DC, Day One…

November 11, 2010 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

I’ve just got back from a research trip to the  2010 mHealth Summit Washington DC. Unfortunately, Obama was out of town in Indonesia and South Korea, but I managed to enjoy a glimpse of his ‘grounds’ during a couple of early morning runs…

The 2010 mHealth summit – produced and presented by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in partnership with the mHealth Alliance and the National Institutes of Health – set a noble tone for the mobile healthcare movement. Scott E Campbell, Executive Director and CEO, Foundation for NIH and David Aylward, Executive Director, mHealth Alliance, introduced the event in celebratory style congratulating the culture of collaboration prevalent in mhealth. They announced anideas sharing forum in the HUBhealthcareunbound.org where people can register and reach out to one another avoiding the common mistake of ‘re-inventing the wheel’ in this unchartered territory of technological and healthcare innovation in it’s most exciting and fruitful time.

 In addition to the GSMA as a new mHealth Alliance member, Hewlett Packard signalled a shift in membership  – it has just signed as a new member to the mHealth alliance in a two year, $1 million aggregate donation to help improve health care and health systems. mHealth is now beyond mobile operators and NGOs and has entered the realm of the big systems integrators, computing powers and the cloud.

Other symbols towards mHealth uptake include an increase in mobile phone related projects by the NIH, with $36 million allocated in 2009.


Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer, US Department of Health and Human Services…

Todd Park gave a fantastic keynote , delivered with electric energy and excitement on the potential of mobile in health. He set the tone by mentioning Text4Baby – a 3 year SMS reminder and prompting service for new mums in the US, and the largest m Health service in the US with other a 100,ooo subs and rising following its launch only this year.

 Text4Baby received a lot of attention throughout the event – it functions as a collaborative model with all CTIA carriers, and a multitude of maternal private clincs working together to provide the free service. It captures the imagination because people can relate to it, it is a simple service, but with direct hopeful behavioural changes for both mothers and the ongoing healthiness of the newborns having been given the best start.

Park went on to tackle the current unsustainable measurement of healthcare provisioning in the US – based on volume of patients seen, rather than the inherent value of health treatment provided – in terms of the patient health improvement and to the overall system in limiting re-admissions. Incentivising financial systems is key and I was hard pushed to find someone who thought that the removal of the 30days obligatory cover for re-admissions, now paid for by the hospital/State, was a bad thing – as it suddenly puts a real financial incentive on administering care with a long tail view.

Next was data liberacion! Park’s open health data campaign which sets up free online data and total IP ownership of this data, so that those who – Important! – opt in, can allow third parties to develop innovative solutions around this data. One example being the Blue Button Veteran scheme which allows veterans to access their PHR’s easily and intuitively. This scheme was decided upon and rolled out in less than a year, perhaps disproving the groans that regulatory frameworks and approvals are stagnating product development in the longer 5-10 year framework. One can’t help thinking that these systems must now be put in place, so that the patient has a choice between ‘public’ open data platforms for PHRs and those from Google and Microsoft becoming the standard…..thoughts on this?

Next up was a panel discussion on Cross-Sectoral Perspectives on MHealth

I thought that Dr K Ganapathy, President, Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation, Apollo Hospitals, India

set it straight when he immediately discharged the idea of developing and developed health markets and economies, stating that India is one of the highest growing markets globally with a 7% healthcare tourist penetration. It did seem apparent that ‘developing’ ‘developed’ was still in terminology much more in the US discussion than in European events, and when one astute audience commentator asked whether the introduction of smartphones in mature markets would make obsolete feature-phone handsets (which have helped to put health in the hands of those less fortunate) many speakers seemed at a loss.

Sanjay Kaul, Business Unit Multimedia, Ericsson put a commercial spin on things when he stressed the need to find sustainable business models (one of the key themes of the event) making mobile healthcare more than pure philanthropy or CSR.

Mwendwa Mwenesi, Phones For Health Coordinator, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Tanzania – a leading mHealth figure in the country stressed the importance of cell phones to feedback 20x more data and more accurate data than paper based field studies – something mimicked in ‘anonymous’ SMS campaigns for HIV or other disease sufferers providing more honest data capture via a device as mediator platform.

David H Gustafson, Director, Center for Health Enhancement Systems, University of Wisconsin was pure joy providing sentient and sensical soundbytes and humour throughout a sometimes misguided panel – someone at his age, 234 he said!, had difficulties with touch screens because of shakes, or keys, because of vision impairment – UI at source is key to improving this.  (The exact sentiment reached this side of the Atlantic in September at our Industry Summit). Iconic languages can help where illiteracy is a consideration, and greater education of new systems – including getting physicians involved in work flow changes – is integral to success.

Futhermore trust needs to be established – will this device do me good or do me harm? How can we stamp approve medical apps? And if networks are going to take on this service – with medical sensitivities – then perhaps the service obligations of the carrier is suddenly entirely different and includes safeguarding of life inherently?

After a spot of crab cakes for lunch with a dear MVNO associate nearby, I stopped at another panel discussion on

The Business and Economics of mHealth – something central to us all.

Patient-Centric Models are the buzz word, but what does that mean? Well apparently to the panel:

1. To help people live a healthy life  – wellness and prevention

2. To help people get healthy and recover

3. To help people exist with a chronic illness

Frederic Zussa, Director, Worldwide Strategy and Innovation at Pfizer said that the power of ICT should be to increase productivity of healthcare, and that technology should not be siloed as a barrier to this.

Peter Drury, Director, Health and Development, Emerging Markets, Cisco agreed identifying the problem of healthcare  as Siloes, Systems and States – with disruptive innovations like m Health going a long way to opening up the market to the disenfranchised in the same way as mPayments has done in Kenya.

First Day Summary:

  • ‘Global is not the opposite of domestic.’
  • Trust is essential
  • How to get clinical tests to commercial reality quickly?
  • Getting to Scale
  • Achieving Sustainable Business Models
  • Patient Centric Models
  • Does mHealth prolong poor life quality for the disenfranchised and the Chronic?


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Mobile Healthcare Update – 2010/2011 2010 mHealth Summit, Washington DC, Day Two

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