Whilst it’s great to see that mHealth is getting talked about in the US Government circles (more on the National Broadband Plan here) it’s a great shame that they can’t draft in a specialist in this field as it’s pretty obvious Senator Wyden hasn’t too much familiarity with mHealth and he’s fallen for the common mistake of thinking like a technologist.
He starts by introducing how “new healthcare technologies that use a High Speed Internet Connection can better meet the health needs of America’s seniors”, before proceeding to give 4 examples of mHealth technologies that will work perfectly over normal 2G cellular networks.
The intentions are great: “these new technologies can save the older people a trip to the Doctor, or in tragic instances a trip to the emergency room”
(Tragic is a bit assumptive – I think he means “serious” or at worst “sad” – due to the plight faced by America’s uninsured. Which is a little surprising considering his experience representing the aged).
But he’s got his terminologies all muddled up: “So for the purpose of this hearing I’m going to call these new technologies eCare”. What? Why? Everything he goes on to introduce involves a patients mobile phone!
The mHealth “gadgets” he introduces are:
1) A “High Tech Bandaid” – which looks somewhat like the Proteus Biomedical Raisin.
But functions very differently: According to the Senator it’s apparently attached to the skin “loaded with Drugs” and it can then administer these in a way that can be wirelessly controlled by the patients remote Doctor/Pharmacist. I’m not so sure he thought that through before saying it, transdermal drug absorption has a long way to go before this is a reality!
UPDATE: According to the very knowledgeable Brian Dolan of MobiHealthNews it seems this device is the Zeo Patch by iRhythm
UPDATE II: Following discussion in the comments below Brian Dolan’s confirmed that this isn’t the Zeo Patch but a new patch from Isis BioPolymer.
3) Nonin Bluetooth Pulse Oximeter
Listening to his concept of the use case for the pulse oximeter, I was amazed to learn “so then you get a read out that in effect confirms to your spouse that you have been eating properly and exercising”. Why your spouse? Would your spouse know how to adjust expectations through an appreciation of your drug regime? Unless you’re getting your Healthcare team to monitor this data I can only see this leading to more need for Doctor/ER visits!
4) The Corventis PiiX Patch
Thankfully as of 6.00 minutes he starts to make a lot more sense pointing out the issues of Medicare including it’s lack of recognition of “eCare” and the way it rewards volume and attendence.
But I’m still not sure that this argument is strong enough to support his conclusion that “Only when the country has a reliable broadband infrastructure in place… …will it be possible to transform the healthcare system that is today all about SickCare into one that finally focuses on Healthcare in keeping our folks well”.
Unfortunately (and I say this as someone who would benefit massively if the whole world was covered in High Speed Broadband!) I think we’re deluding ourselves if we think high speed broadband is what’s going to save the health of America – especially when you consider the much deeper issues surrounding patient education and misinformation eg. KFC’s being repainted Pink in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness: