Will mHealth be the Next Flight to the Moon?

We Choose To Go To The Moon

By David Lee Scher, MD (12/19/2011)

When President Kennedy in his inaugural address challenged the country to land a man on the moon in ten years, he had no idea how many technologies would be spawned off of such a mission. Technology used in space shuttle fuel pumps, for example, led to the development of a miniature heart pump weighing less than four ounces. A system originally developed to detect shuttle hydrogen gas leaks led Ford to produce a car-powered by natural gas.  Construction of space shuttles led to ‘fly by wire’ control systems and ultimately to ‘drive by wire’ by the auto industry.

I believe that mHealth is taking a similar journey.  The quest for patient-centric healthcare has resulted in enthusiastic participation in mHealth by telecommunications companies, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, insurance companies, healthcare systems, and healthcare providers ranging from dietitians to surgeons. This broad range of involvement has been fascinating to observe.  It truly is reflective of both the far-reaching implications of mHealth on population health as well as the explosive opportunities in the marketplace.

We need a “going to the moon” type of national initiative to move 50% of people out of health institutions and into homes in 10 years, potentially saving trillions of dollars. – Intel’s Eric Dishman (in his video on our Problems & Solutions page).

The simultaneous emergence of the participatory medicine movement and current healthcare and crises in the USA are drivers for development of wireless health technologies. What is interesting is how breakthroughs in diverse areas of research are coming together in mHealth. Genetics, informatics, IT communications and connectivity, biosensors, and other sectors of technology are all both converging on mHealth and, by virtue of partnering, may produce positive unexpected results.  Tools that may create a convenience for patients or providers become vehicles for education or marketing.

Partnerships which emerge from common customer base needs, technical compatibilities, or diversification goals are commonly forged in the business world.  The pressing economic, healthcare delivery and population health issues are making some seemingly strange bedfellows.  Who would think that Ford Motor Company would be partnering with Medtronic, or that AT&T would be in the biosensor clothing business? I think we can all look forward to many more unforeseen benefits of the exploration of mHealth space.

David Lee Scher, MD

David Lee Scher, MD (mHealth consultant)

About David Lee Scher, MD

Dr. Scher is a medical pioneer (earliest adopter of remote patient monitoring and interoperability with EHR), a lifecycle contributor to development of new technology and regulatory approval as a clinical investigator, and a Medicare Carrier Advisory Committee member. He writes a blog on mHealth and can be reached by email or through Linkedin.

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