July 1, 2009

Medical Monitoring through Mobile Devices

There are two articles worth mentioning about delivering health care services through mobile communication devices. The Wall Street Journal published an article authored by Ms. Fawn Johnson of Dow Jones Newswires on June 23, 2009, "Medical Monitoring, Cell Phone Industries Joining Force," explaining that "medical device makers are forging a new partnership with the cell-phone industry to allow doctors to remotely monitor their patients' heart rhythms, body temperature and breathing rates, with the goal of saving billions in hospitalization costs." San Diego, California-based West Wireless Health Institute (WWHI), one of the world's first medical research organizations dedicated to advancing health and well-being through the use of wireless technologies, issued a press release announcing it will collaborate with San Jose, California-based Corventis, Inc. for WWHI's first clinical research program. "Corventis is a developer of wireless cardiovascular solutions designed to enable early detection, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular conditions," according to the press release.

Ms. Johnson writes, "The Band Aid-like heart patch from Corventis sends patient readings through a Bluetooth wireless connection to the person's smart phone - an iPhone or a BlackBerry. The data is then transmitted to a doctor's office. Physicians are alerted if their patient shows irregularities. Other device makers are waiting in the wings for similar trials, hoping to win over the people who ultimately would pay for their products - doctors, private insurance companies, and the government." Dr. Eric Topol, WWHI's chief medical officer, is quoted as saying, "'The goal is to get it used in medicine, to get [government] reimbursement, to shake up how medicine is practiced.'" WWHI's press release further says, "Corventis will work closely with [WWHI's] clinical research and wireless engineering teams to ensure the research devices improve the existing level of care, and are safe, reliable and cost effective."

InternetNews.com published an article, "CTIA Seeking Mobile Health Care Mandate," written by Mr. Kenneth Corbin on June 24, 2009 saying "the trade association representing the wireless industry is ramping up its mHealth campaign to raise awareness of the potential of mobile devices to improve the nation's health care system." Utilizing the latest technology in improving the United States' health care system has become a primary issue as the result of Congress appropriating $19 billion for health IT initiatives in the economic stimulus package.

Regarding the Congressional funding, Mr. Corbin writes that the money, by statute, "is to be allocated to projects that meet a 'meaningful use' criterion, a slippery term that Congress left to the Department of Health and Human Services to define. HHS currently has an open proceeding to develop a definition, and it is unclear what existing or emerging wireless technologies will qualify. However, an official from the department today offered a bullish forecast for the potential of remote-monitoring devices to improve health care."

While the discussion of health reform and technology has focused on electronic health records, "advocates of mobile health care are highlighting more dynamic applications that could automate the process of providing care," says Mr. Corbin. "These applications, most powered by sensors, run the gamut from cardiac-monitoring devices to smart pills that notify a medical facility when they have been ingested."

The mobile application industry for smartphones is growing exponentially on a daily basis. Mr. Corbin notes that "in Apple's iPhone app store alone, there are more than 1,500 health applications. Intel and GE, two companies playing in the space, have projected that home health care monitoring will grow to a $7.7 billion market by 2012. Much of the promise of wireless health IT centers on removing the human element from mundane tasks like recording the data that diabetes patients are supposed to enter in diaries each time they take a glucose reading. If the device were connected to a network, the readings would be transmitted instantly and automatically, which would improve the quality of data doctors receive."

No comments:

Post a Comment