Thursday, September 9, 2010

#mHealth: Hype or Reality? What needs to be done?

Today is the last day of the 2nd International mHealth Networking Conference. As a physician champion for the HCPLive Network, I'm excited to blog about some of the highlights from this meeting. You can also follow updates about the mHealth Networking Conference on HCPLive.com.

This afternoon, the closing session started with a panel discussion titiled, "mHealth: Hype or Reality? What needs to be done?" The panelists included: Neil Versel, FierceMobileHealthcare; Paulanne Balch, MD, Physician Lead, Health Connect Messaging, Kaiser Permanente; John Mattison, MD, CMIO, Kaiser Permanente, and C. Peter Waegemann, mHealth Initiative.

Let's start with the personal health record (PHR) hype. Are consumers even using PHRs? Perhaps patients are expecting too much too soon. Within closed systems like a Kaiser Permanente, you'll find active engagement among consumers who are using integrated PHRs.

How do consumers perceive mHealth? The transformational effect associated with mHealth is the social integration, the support communities, and the consumer-directed nature of mHealth. After all, SMS is engaging.

Members from the audience asked questions related to the following topics:

What's next after mHealth?  mHealth is an enabler that will take us to participatory health, personalized medicine, predictive medicine, and preventive medicine. Right now, we have too much connectivity and we're drowning in too much information. The next step could be the use of meaningful filters that will help us receive relevant information.

Technology is changing the way we communicate. Teens prefer to text instead of speaking on the phone. Physicians are using electronic communication to correspond with their colleagues. We're seeing a migration away from direct social contact.

How about the issue of patient/doctor trust? Does mHealth threaten that relationship? At Kaiser, those patients who engaged in e-mail communication with their providers found a stronger trust relationship developing.

What about gaming? Will gaming revolutionize the health care industry? There is an extremely high level of engagement in the world of online gaming. In fact, gaming is even addictive in places like Korea. This is an untapped area in the world of health care.

What is your wishlist about mHealth? How about an electronic system where you don't have to type anything? How about a system that suggests orders? How about a system where the patient actively participates in their medical care? How about a system that allows patients to stay at home so that they don't need to come to the hospital? How about a system that provides patients with relevant information at the right time? How about a mobile app that recognizes patient symptoms and provides a diagnosis?

I want to thank Epocrates for sponsoring these blog posts from the 2nd International mHealth Networking Conference. Epocrates, Inc. develops clinical information and decision support tools that enable healthcare professionals to find answers more quickly and confidently at the point of care.

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