mHealth Summit Preview

I’m in route to the mHealth Summit in Washington, DC. My schedule is unfortunately tight this week, with Tuesday meetings on the West Coast allowing me to attend the summit only Monday. It will be a full day for me trying to attend sessions and spend some time in the exhibit hall. I’m looking forward to it.

Last year after the mHealth Summit, I wrote about what was missing from the event — mainstream, established HIT companies. None of the established EMR vendors exhibited at the event because it wasn’t worth their time or money. After last year’s event, HIMSS took over the mHealth Summit from NIH. HIMSS was involved last year, but the conference did not belong to them.

I thought that having this year’s Summit as a HIMSS-owned event would bring some of the big players to the party, but that doesn’t seem to be the case from the exhibitor list. I’ll be floating around the exhibit hall Monday to see who’s there. Maybe the mHealth Summit is destined to be an event of new and up-and-coming companies in healthcare, and not the big established players. Or maybe these new companies will be the established names in a few years. 

Big enterprises do come to the event and exhibit. I’m betting carriers like Qualcomm and AT&T have massive booths.

Despite the big EMR vendors not attending — or maybe because of it — the mHealth Summit is usually interesting. It attempts to blend global and domestic mobile health topics. The panels can be hit or miss. Below are the panels that I’m attending Monday when I’m not in the exhibit hall. I’ve also called out the panels on Tuesday and Wednesday that looked the most intriguing.

On Monday, I’m not very excited about the morning options. The content and panels are not very exciting. In the afternoon, I’m hoping to go to Point of Care Delivery Transformed and Mobile Gaming for Better Health. I love games for health and I’m really hoping this year’s session is better than last year, which was one of the biggest disappointments of the summit for me. As a backup to these, I might pop into Evidence Matters: mHealth Evidence Status and Approaches. Mobile Applications & Social Media – Do They Impact Consumer Health? presented by UntitedHealth also seems good, but all of the sessions I’ve listed conflict with each other.

Tuesday has what looks like — at least based on subject matter and speakers — the most interesting session of the summit. The Super Session at 10:00 a.m. called Pushing the Limits of Mobile Health – Can We Have Health & Healthcare Without Doctors? could be interesting. One of the speakers is Vinod Khosla, the VC from Khosla Ventures who has made strong statements about the role and necessity of providers in healthcare. He’s written and spoken about using technology to replace 80 percent of what doctors do. The last time he made the statement at an event in California, he challenged any doctor in the audience to question him. I’m sure he’ll make similar statements at the Summit. He’ll be on stage with Joseph Kvedar, MD, from Partners. Either way, it should make for some of the more interesting sessions, as I’m sure Khosla is going to make some extreme statements about the role of technology in healthcare.

The only other two sessions I found of interest Tuesday were mServices: Lessons Learned for mHealth and Can We Spend Less on Healthcare? I’m fascinated by mobile services beyond healthcare and think there’s lots to learn there. I’m also interested in tools to reduce the cost of care.

Wednesday has the Mobile Health Venture Fair all day. I looked at the list of companies and didn’t recognize any of them, but I’m sure there will be some interesting technologies and business models to check out.

Other interesting sessions Wednesday are BYOD: Now Please Make It Work! and What Goes Into Making an Extraordinary mHealth App?. If you’re still at the summit in the afternoon, go see Francis Collins, the head of the NIH and normally a very good speaker. Games for mHealth: Development, Demos, & Discussion is also in the afternoon and hopefully will be better than the health games panel last year at the summit, which was extremely disappointing.

I also wanted to highlight a Tuesday night event co-sponsored by HIStalk Connect sponsor Kony.

If you have exciting plans for the Summit or ideas for sessions to highlight, I’d love hear about them.

Travis Good is an MD/MBA involved with health IT startups. More about me.

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