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Behind the mHealth, Telehealth Boom

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, August 30, 2011

Better technology

Technology is advancing quickly in the mHealth and telehealth spaces. Vast improvements in audio and video capabilities, for example, make for more productive remote visits and more accurate remote diagnoses.

Government interest

 

The FDA is looking to oversee some mHealth apps that could be considered medical devices. Although an argument could be made that too much government oversight can stifle innovation, this step could lead to better quality medical apps. According to the report: "Proper rules" for the approval of mobile health applications will "increase the productivity and the accuracy of the Mobile Health applications in the future."

The FDA wants to oversee mobile medical apps that are used as an accessory to a medical device that it already regulates or that transforms a mobile platform into a regulated medical device. The FDA has already cleared a handful of mobile medical apps, such as a smartphone-based ultrasound and an application that allows doctors to view medical images.

Government money

Telemedicine equipment is expensive. But the feds are also driving growth with federal grants aimed at using telehealth to improve rural access to healthcare or healthcare app developer challenges encourage—and reward—innovation. Finally, remote care payment reform is slowly expanding Medicare reimbursements for doctors who monitor patients remotely in urban and suburban areas.

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1 comments on "Behind the mHealth, Telehealth Boom"


J. Kuriyan (8/30/2011 at 1:27 PM)
What really holds back Tele-health are the arcane rules of licensure set up by State Medical Societies to "protect" their members patients from being "poached" by out of state health practitioners. If national licenses (like Board Certifications) are issued, in addition to or instead of state licenses then Tele-health will grow and thrive, especially in treatment of chronic patients. Many chronic patients really need a few minutes of consults every month - once they are in a good "maintenance" protocol. That will reduce the workload of PCPs - and allow them to see more patients who need personal attention. Off-loading the huge number of chronic patients can sound threatening to a PCP butby setting up a simple PC based system they can also participate in the boom.