Mobile tech touted as way to give veterans better access to healthcare
For the three million veterans living in rural areas, access to healthcare remains a major barrier, Rep. Michael F. Michaud (D-Maine), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health, said in his opening remarks at a hearing Wednesday. But wireless technology shows promise for veterans, he said.
"It is no surprise that our rural veterans have worse health outcomes compared to the general population," Michaud said. "This is where I see the great potential of innovative wireless health technologies."
Michaud acknowledged VA as a recognized leader in using electronic health records, telehealth, and telemedicine.
"However, wireless health technologies also include mobile health, which truly is the new frontier in health innovations," he said. "Mobile health makes it possible for healthcare professionals to receive real-time health data such as vital signs, glucose levels and medication compliance because data from the patient's mobile sensors are relayed over wireless connections."
Several who testified at the hearing agreed.
"For these and other individuals, I suggest that wireless health technologies represent a key ingredient in providing quality and accessible care, and gaining budgetary efficiencies in the process," said Darrell M. West, vice president and director, governance study and dIrector, Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. "Health care based on mobile health, remote monitors, electronic medical records, social networking sites, video conferencing and Internet-based recordkeeping can make a positive difference for many people. We should encourage e-mail reminders to take medicine, mechanisms to rate experiences with doctors and hospitals, and Web sites that make care ratings publicly available to other patients."
"To realize the quality improvement and cost-containment goals of healthcare reform, our nation must harness the benefits of technologies that allow patients and care providers to use real-world, remotely-collected data to make decisions about their health on a continual basis, rather than waiting until a condition has set in that requires them to schedule an urgent office visit or go to the emergency room," testified Rick Cnossen, president and chairman of Continua Health Alliance, a nonprofit, open industry coalition of healthcare and technology companies "By tracking vital signs and other health data on a more regular basis and sharing it through secure systems, eCare offers many beneficial clinical capabilities."
"Mobile health or mHealth – defined broadly as emerging mobile communications and network technologies for healthcare systems – can be an agent for behavior change, impacting healthcare challenges such as smoking cessation, diabetes, and appointment attendance," said Col. Ronald Poropatick, MD, deputy director, Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command
Department of the Army. "Applications for cell phone and smart phone platforms are emerging that enable clinical consultation, patient and provider education, research, biosurveillance and disease management."