Mobile Health Gaining Grounds…*



Mobile health access is certainly gaining grounds, especially with the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the health application of Siemens new mobile digital X-ray system  as well as AgaMatrix smartphone’s attachment which measures blood glucose levels. There also will be some guidance revealed on mHealth devices in the coming months.

Sailesh Chutani, PhD, CEO and co-founder of Mobisante is certainly a brilliant researcher, with great experience and a clear vision expressed in his book "Technology at the Margins", where he explained the impact of mobile systems on health as well as on education, finance and the environment.  As a former senior director at Microsoft in Windows Mobile, Dr. Sailesh engaged the company in many different seeding projects in the medical field, bio-informatics and biology systems.According to Dr. Sailesh, because smartphones are personal, affordable and accessible to most everyone, and even though they have limitations which are bound to be pushed back a little more each year, they are more powerful computing devices than computer themselves.

Cell phones taking over the world is just a beginning.  Because of the many positive aspects of cell phones, such as portability, closeness and constant connection to the users, ease of recharge, low cost and frequent technological releases, cell phones are extremely attractive to users. What's more, ecosystem applications give great added-value to customers who get many kinds of constantly renewed usage.

In terms of mobile health achievements, Mobisante has already connected a Windows Mobile smartphone to an ultrasound probe via USB building-in a portable and affordable ultrasound system providing ultrasound imaging to more than 70% of those that didn’t have access to it.

Don Jones, VP, Wireless Health Market Development and Global Strategy, Qualcomm Labs, explains that Qualcomm has recently followed this path, launching a new subsidiary called Qualcomm Life, to manage the development of the company's mobile health platforms.  Qualcomm Life is dedicated to remote health management and a new cloud platform called 2net for transferring biometric data. The 2net Platform supports SSL secure communication of data and is FDA listed as a Class I Medical Device Data System (MDDS). As a result, the subsidiary's core business is to connect mobile devices through Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology.  M2M connects remote monitoring devices through wireless connections.

According to Pramod Gaur, Ph.D., VP Telehealth, UnitedHealth Group, the main challenges of technology is to give access assistance in primary and secondary prevention and to training for primary healthcare providers. The main hindrance for moving technology to mainstream solutions would remain the fragmented state of health care systems worldwide as well as in emerging countries. Despite these obstacles, UnitedHealth Group’s goal is to “enable the advancement of mobile health by integrating it effectively across Promotion, Prevention and Cure disciplines to improve overall health and well-being of populations and individuals.”

George Held, Director of Products & Services, Etisalat Group, presented TBA (Traditional Birth Attendant) initiative in Africa. “TBA registers her community referral information directly on the Mobile Baby application. This includes her catchment area, drivers and health facility staff contact details. Through the Mobile Baby application, the TBA registers mother during their pregnancy and report to the Medical facility pregnancy status, danger signs and basic information based on guidelines from WHO and JHPIEGO.”

Richard Moore, Commercial Syndication and Partnership Manager, NHS Choices, presented his company’s aims: “We’re helping citizens manage their health and well-being and make informed choices about their healthcare.”

The NHS choices’ mobile strategy is explained as follows:

-          It supports NHS Choices in communicating with digitally excluded,

-          Citizens want it,

-         It enables NHS Choices to target specific audiences,

-          It's an opportunity to develop new digital services,

-          They are cost effective solutions.

For instance, NHS Drinks Tracker allows user to quickly calculate his drink units, keep track of your drinking and get customized feedback.

Richard Moore also raised main concerns about the issue of legacy systems, the lacking mechanism for accreditation and regulation of mobile apps and the privacy issues.

For all these companies and for the sake of healthcare systems which remain fragmented worldwide and in emerging countries, the technology will allow adding more sophisticated medical devices and sensors to mobile platforms and therefore, provide a broad range of diagnostics. All these companies are driving the path of innovation and highly encourage the dialogue between patients and physicians.

*I was invited to attend Mobile World Congress 2012 by Orange Group to join their Social Media Team


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