mHealth Congressional Hearings: Day Two

3-20-2013 8-49-22 PM

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce held Day Two of its hearings on mhealth, led by the Subcommittee on Health. The hearing, title “Health Information Technologies: How Innovation Benefits Patients,” focused on how innovative technologies benefit patients and the steps needed to foster innovation.

Testifying at the hearing was Joseph Smith MD, PhD, chief medical and science officer at West Health Institute; Jacqueline Mitus, MD, SVP of clinical development and strategy at McKesson Health Solutions; Jim Bialick, executive director at the Newborn Coalition; Christine Bechtel, VP at the National Partnership for Women and Families; and David Classen, MD, CMIO at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Smith discussed the straining healthcare system and the potential mHealth holds to develop a patient-centric system that will foster a more efficient and affordable system.

"The time required for a family physician to deliver guideline-based care to one-day’s patient panel requires an impossible 21.7 hours. Our health care delivery system is clearly exceeding our nation’s budget and our providers’ bandwidth.” – Joseph Smith, MD, PhD, chief medical and science officer at West Health Institute

Smith suggests that medical device interoperability could lead to more than $30 billion in healthcare savings. However, he warns that reimbursement systems that reward face-to-face encounters over remote encounters and hospital-based procedures over office-based procedures would need to be redrawn and that a new delivery model would need to be entirely based on outcome.

Classen tempered the enthusiasm by calling attention to the lack of patient safety advances that EHRs have delivered and the real-world clinical problems that are resulting from the lack of overall integration in the community. He goes on to call for a health IT safety council that would assess and monitor the quality and risk management methodologies in place at health IT vendors.

Congressman Phil Gingrey summarized the spirit of the discussion well in saying that by adding FDA approval requirements and the 2.3 percent medical device tax to mobile health apps, entrepreneurs are going to be operating in an entirely different market. Apps that help remind people to take their medication or count their calories would likely no longer be able to be provided for free because developers would need to recoup their investments faster through an end user revenue stream.

He went on to say that those apps are not drawing blood or taking patient temperatures, they are simply providing information to consumers about their health, and any taxation or regulation will ultimately hinder innovation and add cost to healthcare.

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