Why Mobile Health Technology is Capturing our Imagination

by Published On: Jun 14, 2012

Research showing that mobile medical devices could save the health system $197 billion over the next 25 years has captured the attention of both device developers and government officials. And that interest is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, despite barriers to the adoption of mobile health (mHealth).

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Julius Genachowski certainly had his eye on those cost-saving estimates when he met with private sector, academic and government leaders in June to discuss both the benefits and the challenges of mHealth. 

While the identified benefits included the lofty goals of improved care and lower costs, the barriers focused on more nitty-gritty issues like regulatory approval, reimbursement and privacy/security.

According to iHealthBeat, Genachowski called on industry stakeholders to conduct research and develop strategies to address the barriers. He also promised to ease the way for innovators working to bring new wireless medical devices to market. 

Moving Ahead with mHealth

Whatever barriers stand in the way, the mHealth field does not appear to be at a standstill by any means. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced plans in June to create what Healthcare IT News describes as one of the world's largest wireless mobility infrastructures for health care. 

The system will cost $19 million and will support 26 medical centers across the country with voice, video and real-time location services. 

In addition, experts predict that the availability of new mobile technology products will continue to grow in both their numbers and their ingenuity.

“The basic idea is to keep patients out of the hospital,” technology consultant Mike Wisz told Healthcare IT News. “We’re going to see more pieces deployed, used, worn, ingested and implanted, and it’s going to be a data tsunami.”

According to Wisz, consumers and health providers should soon expect to see:

  • Monitoring devices that are attached to or embedded within the body or work within a person’s home. Eventually, multiple devices will be capable of interacting with the same platform, which will send the collected data into the cloud where it will be aggregated for easier access and use.

  • New technology platforms, like Google's Project Glass. This prototype features a built-in camera, global positioning system (GPS), email, and web searches – all on the surface of your eyeglasses. 

  • Contact lenses that can receive data from mobile phones and provide the user with real-time notifications and event alerts. 

  • Smartphone apps that will allow users to test their blood or determine if a child has an ear infection. 

  • Special pill box “glow-caps” that use light and sound reminders and follow-up phone call or text message to assure medication adherence.


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