Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Now attending the 2nd International mHealth Networking Conference #mHealth

I'm now in San Diego and I'm attending 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 2nd mHealth Networking Conference on

If you'd like to follow these updates on Twitter, make sure to follow this #hashtag: #mHealth.

Today is day #1 and it's been a great morning so far.

C. Peter Waegemann, Vice President of mHealth Initiative Inc., kicked things off by speaking about "Communication-Enhanced Healthcare." How much do you know about mHealth and the history of mHealth? The world of mHealth is rapidly evolving and we're seeing new communication systems getting implemented in the world of health care. mHealth is a term that is also accepted internationally and it's great to see some international representation here at the conference.  One of the presentations here focuses around Severance Hospital in South Korea. In many developing countries, the Internet is solely focused around the mobile web because the people who live in those countries may have mobile phones but they don't have laptops or desktops. 

The term mHealth is universally recognized because "mHealth" blends perspectives from the following:
  • Telecare and telemedicine
  • Connected health
  • Wireless health
Perhaps the biggest area of opportunity for mHealth is in the area of clinical documentation. We're living in an era where we're seeing communication-enhanced healthcare. As speech recognition technology improves, mobile devices may play more integral roles in the area of clinical documentation because you won't be relying on a keyboard for data entry. Wouldn't it be great if we could just put a medical transcriptionist into your smartphone?

The keynote was presented by John Mattison MD, Chief Medical Information Officer, Kaiser Permanente. He spoke about "Healthcare meets Wellness: The Critical Role of Mobile Services."

Dr. Mattison started by polling the audience with some trivia:
Have you heard of clinical ontology (not oncology, but ontology)? How about mirror neurons?
Did you know that 30 countries have visited Kaiser Permanente to see their integrated health IT model?

The mobile platform is a disruptive technology that will give consumers more control over their own health and wellness. We're living in the world where consumer-cetric care is one of the key opportunities in mHealth. In the Kaiser Permanente network, there are 30,000 secure e-mails exchanges between patients and physicians. Such communication improves the management of blood pressure (published in BMJ).

Are consumers using mobile health apps? They're using them, but are they resulting in sustainable health changes in areas like weight loss, diabetes management, etc.?  What's the "behavioral secret sauce" to help patients improve their health? As patients engage in different types of social networks, they'll find support for their specific conditions. This way, patients will engage in behavioral change that is specific to the problems they may be facing.

There are 3 targets in quality improvement:
1. Treat to target (clinical)
2. Communicate to target (modality)
3. Escalate to target (machine to people)
Capture and implement individual preferences for each with adaptive learning utilities.

What are the outstanding challenges in mHealth? Here are a few examples: There are 8 different smartphone operating systems. Do we pick a single OS? There are 5 consumer health ontologies. How do we deal with the flood of clinical data? How do we manage the parallel channels of provider-enabled vs. self-contained consumer health apps? Privacy/security in the age of genomics. Managing social networks between providers and patients. Are we thinking about the international implications of consumer-driven healthcare? Many developing countries focus entirely on the mobile web.

What are the key social and policy implications? The dilemma focuses around the rigorous respect for privacy in the context of mass-customized behavioral support for wellness?

Dr. Mattison closed his keynote by emphasizing that these mHealth transformational changes are accelerating. We must have a way to respect patient privacy and security as we dive further into mHealth and consumer-centric care.

This afternoon, I'm looking forward to attending sessions around mobile clinical apps, social media, and more.

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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