Last week, we were at the mHealth initiative conference in Washington D.C. The keynotes were all about the impact mobile health applications are having in shaping the future of the health care system. Nothing demonstrates that more than the iPhone. In the 18 months since it was released, it has been perhaps the biggest thing to happen to health care electronic records, which has seen billions of dollars worth of investment in past decades.

Mobile and wireless health applications directly impact the individual's health and have the promise of ensuring that when a patient leaves a doctor visit, they don't become "lost" in the system. It allows consumers to be engaged with health and wellness in their daily lives and connect back to their health care provider.

For citizens in the United States, this movement could offer a future where there is allocated wireless spectrum that brings a wealth of health information into our homes and to our personal devices. This could be in the form of streaming health record transactions and content targeted to us where we consume our daily media and social interactions.

Dr. Mohit Kaushal, health care director for the National Broadband Taskforce, gave a summary of the issues surrounding health care and mobile health in a keynote today. We had a chance to catch up with him afterwords and dig in deeper to a few the key considerations of health IT as part of FCC investment.

Barriers

First, he described a few barriers that have existed in the past.


  • Connectivity between systems is a major issue and challenge in health care.

  • Adoption of electronic health has been slowed by reimbursement incentives and regulatory issues.

  • Data utilization is growing to become a part of the mobile spectrum and also is being driven by intensive applications such as video and imaging.

Key Challenges

Next, Dr. Kaushel shared a few of the hurdles to overcome with a national broadband policy to support health applications.


  • The US needs to invest in infrastructure to meet the growing needs of a mobile-enabled population.

  • Spectrum must be allocated (or reallocated) to meet the needs and the right areas of growth

  • Regulations need to be designed to maximize incentives for innovation in care delivery.

  • There must be reimbursement incentives and viable business models for companies to succeed in delivering profitable services. In the health care system, we know that fee for service doesn't work nearly as well as an outcome based approach for delivery of health, rather than more procedures.

The question is how we can take this learning and apply it to spectrum or infrastructure that is allocated to consumer facing health care solutions. Should the U.S. include mobile health care in its considerations for the next phase of allocation of spectrum?