mHealth Summit Preview 12/2/11

The biggest event in mobile health, the mHealth Summit, is set to kick off on Monday. The three-day mobile healthfest will take place at the Gaylord Resort outside of DC in National Harbor. I’ll be in attendance soaking up the mobile experience and trying to relay what I see and hear.

Last years event, which had about 2,500 attendees, was internationally focused. Efforts were made this year to make the event more global, as in domestic + international mHealth. One of those efforts was adding HIMSS as a partner, and the summit coincides nicely with the launch of the new mHIMSS website.

The conference is broken down into keynotes, super sessions, and 14 different tracks. The challenge, for me at least, is picking which sessions to attend from the all-too-big menu. I have the same problem with Cheesecake Factory. You can’t really see it all, so I’m just trying to chase the individuals — and sometimes topics — that I find to be the most interesting.

For keynotes, I’m really looking forward to Eric Topol (West Wireless), because he’s forward thinking and has been ahead of connected health for a while. Also Sangita Reddy, (Apollo Hospital Group) because Apollo is doing some impressive things with technology and care delivery across its 9,000+ beds. I’m sure some of the others will be good, but a lot of keynotes from last year dragged on after a while. The exceptions to that from last year would be the keynotes from Bill Gates and Ted Turner, both of which were entertaining.

There is one clear winner when it comes to Super Sessions for me, the panel on Mobile Health in the Clinical Enterprise. I think the clinical side of mobile health sometimes gets overshadowed by the mHealth startup craze around consumer health tools, home monitoring, and big data. Clinical mobile health applications hold great immediate promise and I’m looking forward to hearing specifically from Joseph Kvedar (Center for Connected Health) — in part to learn how you pronounce his last name and in part because he’s a thought leader — and Krishnan Ganapathy (Apollo Telemedicine), because he was one of the more entertaining speakers from last year.

Weeding through the main categories of tracks and specific sessions within those tracks is challenging because I see a lot of overlap between many of them. The categories are:

  • Business – this holds the most interest for me. The case for what technology and services are possible today and into the future has already been made. The question that remains is who is going to create a sustainable mobile health business. Some sessions of specific interest are The Evolution of Gaming and its Effect on Prevention and Wellness and Successful mHealth Business Models in Emerging Markets. If you’re interested in investors, go to the The Venture Capital Perspective on mHealth session.
  • Policy – I think this will be a lot of talking and speculating without much meat. The one session that looks more interesting relative to the rest in this category would be The Role of Standards in mHealth.
  • Research – I love research, really I do, and see the importance of it for all health IT, mHealth in particular, but I can’t bring myself to attend sessions on it. I’ll check out the paper and poster presentations instead.
  • Technology – there are some interesting sessions here. The ones on my list are Encouraging Care Organizations and Payers to Become mHealth Testbeds and Passive, Non-Invasive, Engaging: Technology Solutions for Managing Chronic Disease.
  • mFinance – this seems focused on international mobile health as it related to mobile payment mechanisms. This is really a fascinating area because of the widespread availability and acceptance of mobile money in certain parts of the world. If you’re interested and have the time, stop by the Developing mHealth and mFinance Business Models and Platforms, an interactive session, focused on specific application in Haiti.
  • HIT X.0 – this track is presented by mHIMSS and is supposed to be provider-centric. The sessions look great in terms of content, but a little lacking in the number of speakers for each session. The speakers listed, though limited in number, seem good.

Some other things to check out, in addition to the exhibit floor, are the pavilions. The StartUp Pavilion, featuring 40 early-stage startups, should be fun, especially if you have an interest in startups or what ideas are getting attention right now. All the new health startup accelerators will be there, including Blueprint Health, HealthBox, Rock Health, and StartUp Health. HealthBox and Blueprint will be announcing winning startups for their respective accelerator programs very shortly, though I’m not sure if those announcements will take place at the Summit.

You can follow along next week on Twitter with hashtag #mhs11 and I’ll try to tweet from the event at @histalkmobile. If you’re attending, the mobile-enabled site is a decent way to help you not get lost. Safe travels.

Travis Good is an MD/MBA involved with HIT startups.

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