Top 10 mHealth Stories of 2012

2012 marked a tipping point for mHealth app development, a steady increase in government oversight initiatives, a stronger push for scalable integration, and lots of conferences. Here are HIStalk Connect’s top stories of 2012.

1. The Challenge to Redesign the Patient Health Record

Blue Button has been a big success, with over a million patient users and many vendors committing to support functionality for providing patients access to their medical records. Amazingly, all Blue Button gives users is a large (and ugly) text file dump of the medical record. This barely human-readable document contains a wealth of health information about patients. It’s just all hidden in its ugliness.

2. Pagers – There’s an App for That

Replacing pagers with smart phones — now that 80 percent of physicians have them — or tablet apps seems like low-hanging fruit. Creating an app to securely exchange messages isn’t trivial, but it’s not exactly building a tricoder or analyzing all that big data, either. Because of this, we’re seeing more and more companies launching apps to enable physicians to securely communicate.

3. FCC Mobile Health Task Force

The FCC’s mHealth Task Force issued a report about the state of mobile health and recommendations for the future, listing the barriers to adoption.

4. mPrescribe – Prescribing Health Apps

A BBC story about general practitioners (GPs) in the UK prescribing health apps to patient received a lot of attention, and for good reason. I’ve written before that physicians need to prescribe health apps — mobile or web — so that patients will sign up and use them regularly. Unfortunately, we are a long way off from seeing most docs prescribe health apps. The UK has an advantage because it is a more centralized health system. Similar US systems like Mayo, Kaiser, Intermountain, and Geisinger could become some of the first to have providers prescribe institutionally approved apps.

5. VA Announces Across the Board Expansion of Telehealth

Following seven years of quantified cost savings and stable patient satisfaction scores, the VA announced an across-the-board expansion of existing telehealth programs aimed at improving care and quality of life for remote veterans, reducing cost, and improving outcomes.

6. Resilient Network Systems Awarded NSTIC Grant to Scale Its Trust Network Nationally

Resilient Network Systems, a San Francisco-based startup focused on providing secure methods of transferring patient data, receives one of five grants issued by the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) program to companies capable of implementing pilot programs for managing a  national online identity.

Stemming from a 2011 initiative issued by the Obama administration calling for the deployment of a standardized online identification system for consumers,  the NSTIC program has awarded the grants to the top five applicants spanning a number of industries. Resilient has been chosen to work in the healthcare sector.

7. HIMSS Experience

I spent most of my time checking out booths and talking to people about mobile initiatives. This is what I found most exciting from a mobile perspective.

8. Pew Research Center Releases mHealth 2012 Survey

The Pew Research Center released the results of its Mobile Health 2012 survey, which covered a broad spectrum of mobile trends and behavioral measurements. Among its findings:

  • One in three cell phone owners use their phone to access mobile health information.
  • Seven in ten US consumers are self trackers.
  • The most common mHealth adopters fall into one of the following demographics demographics : Latino, African American, age 18-49, college educated.
  • Ten percent of  mobile phone owners have a health app on their phone, 19 percent for smartphone owners.

9. Scanadu Pushes the mHealth Envelope

Scanadu, a NASA-based Silicon Valley mHealth startup, announced its first wave of consumer-based product offerings. Working under the tagline “sending your mobile phone to med school.” the company hopes to fill the yet-to-be-realized market demand for home-based “auto-diagnosis” devices. Considered a front runner for the Qualcomm Tricoder X Prize competition, the Scanadu devices capture vitals, analyze saliva and urine, and diagnose conditions based on the results.

10. Impressions of the mHealth Summit 2012

My overall impression of the Summit was that, on the whole, not much progress has been made since last year, when all the talk was about how 2012 was going to be the year mHealth started going to scale.

Here’s to a connected 2013. Happy New Year.

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