Lawmakers and industry groups are urging federal agencies to collaborate on efforts that will accelerate the adoption of mobile health technologies among healthcare providers and patients.
A mobile health task force convened by the Federal Communications Commission set a goal last week for what's considered mHealth—mobile health, wireless health and e-care technologies—to become a routine best practice for medical care within the next five years.
However, barriers remain to that level of adoption in the healthcare industry, both in the development of the technology and infrastructure as well as with the federal agencies that are responsible for regulating wireless and medical devices.
Some organizations have been concerned that “there is a policy curve and a technology curve that are spatially disconnected,” said Tom Martin, a manager at mHIMSS and a task force member. mHIMSS is a mobile initiative of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.
The task force recommended that the FCC continue to play a leadership role in advancing the adoption of mobile health, which includes a wide range of technologies from remote patient monitors and mobile medical and health software applications to medical body area network devices.
“We've seen, over the last several years, a steady stream of new examples of the ways that broadband technology, particularly wireless technology, can transform medicine,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said last week during a panel discussion.
The task force also said federal agencies, including the CMS, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, should increase collaboration on mHealth to “promote innovation, protect patient safety and avoid regulatory duplication.”
“Modernizing the healthcare ecosystem is a national priority that requires close collaboration and prioritization among all stakeholders,” the task force said in the report.
In April, six lawmakers sent a letter to Genachowski and FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg requesting an update on coordinated FCC and FDA activities over concerns that momentum for shared collaboration on mHealth issues had slowed since the two agencies signed a memorandum of understanding in 2010.