One of coolest changes technology has brought about is the ability to connect “in person” from wherever you are. On Dec. 19, I had the opportunity to speak “face-to-face” with a group of mHealth thought leaders as part of a Nova Southwestern University Google+ Hangout. As they sat in their respective offices and I joined from clinic in Miami, very appropriately, much of the conversation focused on mobile health technologies of remote patient monitoring (RPM) and telehealth.
The promise of mHealth is that doctors can meet patients where they‘re actually experiencing healthcare. While RPM and telehealth are not new, what’s really changed the game and created momentum comes from a combination of several factors. This perfect storm includes the groundwork laid from electronification of clinical data through federal mandates and incentives for Electronic Medical Record (EMR) adoption, the proliferation of smartphone adoption, and the rise of mobile Web – driving individuals to the Web and their smartphones to search for information on their healthcare.
But to me, the real catalyst is the end user – the patients themselves. The way patients access information is changing. What we’re doing in mHealth is taking that traditional black bag that docs used to carry, and we’re replacing it with technology like smartphones and tablets. These “virtual visits” can extend beyond the hospital walls to provide better access to care. We’re meeting them where they are — be it at their home, their office, at the gym, or elsewhere.
Telehealth is becoming a part of everyday medical practice. As noted on the panel, “telehealth” and “healthcare” are becoming synonymous. Healthcare organizations are improving access to specialty care and delivery of health services by providing remote diagnostic, monitoring, disease management, health education, and consumer outreach services using secure, broadband networks.
An important element is extending the benefits of telehealth and mHealth to the broader population and making sure we can engage the end user – no matter what their background, putting tools into the hands of those who need the most help.
The conversation was not only compelling, but encouraging. None of us can do it alone. We need spirit of collaboration among the startups, the innovation of entrepreneurs, the vision of students… and companies like AT&T that are enablers.