Access to medical services, availability of state-of-the-art medical products, and capacity of wireless telecommunications networks are critical to the success of a 21st century health care system. Because wireless mobility will continue to play a central role in the enhanced and cost-effective delivery of health care, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski asked a group of health care industry experts, academics and senior executives from the health and technology industries to examine the challenges faced by wireless health technology and develop recommendations to accelerate the adoption of mHealth solutions.
On September 24, 2012, the mHealth Task Force released a report that makes a series of recommendations for industry and government action to harness the potential of mobile devices with the goal of improving health outcomes and lowering costs. This is a critical issue because by 2020, 160 million Americans will depend on wireless technology to be treated and monitored for at least one chronic condition, according to a study by John Hopkins University.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) hosted a panel discussion to mark the release of the mHealth Task Force report. The mHealth Task Force report sets five specific goals and recommendations for the FCC, other federal agencies and industry to help leverage communication technologies to improve health care quality, access and adoption.
The recommendations in the report are designed to achieve the overarching goal that “by 2017 mHealth, wireless health and e-Care solutions will be routinely available as part of best practices for medical care with appropriate reimbursement incentives.”
The report recommendations are:
Goal 1: The FCC should continue to play a leadership role in advancing mobile health adoption.
Goal 2: Federal agencies should increase collaboration to promote innovation, protect patient safety and avoid regulatory duplication.
Goal 3: The FCC should build on existing programs and link programs when possible in order to expand broadband access for health care.
Goal 4: The FCC should continue efforts to increase capacity, reliability, interoperability and RF safety of mHealth technologies.
Goal 5: Industry should support continued investment, innovation, and job creation in the growing mobile health sector.
The Task Force considered several existing barriers to mobile health technology adoption, including lack of access to fixed and mobile broadband coverage for providers and patients, particularly in rural areas. Although not examined from a communications perspective, the report also notes how outdated reimbursement regulations and policies continue to inhibit the proliferation of mobile health technologies. However, a real opportunity for inter-agency collaboration exists where federal partners can leverage current programs and share key data to create modern solutions.
Qualcomm appreciates the central role the FCC plays in enabling new health care technologies that rely on wireless communications and broadband connectivity. For mobile health care to be successful, there is no question that the nation will need more mobile broadband spectrum to ensure that our wireless networks are robust and reliable. We also need to update policies and regulations to ensure that they incentivize doctors and patients to take advantage of the full range of innovations made available by wireless technology.
That’s why the leadership of federal agencies like the FCC under Chairman Genachowski and open collaboration with all stakeholders will play a key role in building a solid foundation for mHealth to flourish in the 21st century.