Mobile phones to play key role in healthcare

By Diana Manos
10:07 AM

At the close of the third annual mHealth Summit, held Dec. 5-7 in Washington, D.C., keynote speakers highlighted the vast impact mobile phones and other mobile devices are having -- and will continue to have -- on healthcare delivery in the United States and worldwide.

Closing keynote speaker Paul Jacobs, chairman of the board and CEO of Qualcomm, said “it isn’t any hype” to call the wireless system one of humanity’s greatest achievements. More than 5.6 billion people are using cell phones, and the smartphone has outpaced computers. “Really, computing has moved to mobile,” he said.

Jacobs predicted 4 billion smart phones will be sold between now and 2014, half of which will be going into markets where there hasn’t been connectivity before. On the 3G level, Jacobs said the world will see “tremendous growth.” The connection will expand to doctors, as well.

“The mobile device in your hand gives you access to all of humanity’s collective knowledge," he added. "We’re going to see the full computer environment coming over. Over the next year, really cool stuff is coming.”

Jacobs predicted mobile devices will play a significant role in managing chronic diseases, helping people to remain well longer. By 2020, he said, 160 million Americans will be treated remotely. Clinical data supports the effectiveness of wireless health solutions, some of which may be located inside the human body in the not so distant future.


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Qualcomm has invested $100 million to accelerate wireless health, said Jacobs. “This is a really exciting industry. Over the next 5-10 years, you will be thinking of yourself connected to your doctor through your phone as you are to your family and friends now. It’s going to absolutely change the world and improve everybody’s standard of living.”

According to keynote speaker Sangita Reddy, executive director of operations for Apollo Hospitals Group, one of Asia’s largest healthcare groups, doctors’ growing comfort with mobile health is key to the transformation of healthcare. “It’s a great beginning,” she told attendees. “Thank you for all for making this change happen.”

“Reimbursement is one of the most powerful motivators of change,” said Reddy.

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Two changes Reddy recommended included, reimbursement for doctors who use of mobile phones in caring for their patients, and coordinated care.

“We have to find a way to collaborate and not compete," she said. "We’re delaying ourselves from the true fruit by arguing over these things."

Reddy said a time is soon coming when healthcare can be delivered 24/7 through the use of mobile devices, with patients given a choice between bricks and mortar care or mobile care, “because the individual is ready to stay healthy.”

Follow Diana Manos on Twitter @DManos_IT_News.

Mobile, Telehealth