I thoroughly enjoyed the mHealth summit. The crowd was a mix of people from different sectors, all energized about the potential of mhealth and clearly everyone felt we are on the verge of a major transformation in medicine. A few messages came through:
1. There are many, many pilots in mhealth – globally. What’s needed now is a focus on interoperability, scalability and sustainability.
2. Financing is a challenge – there was little talk about how physicians will get reimbursed for services related to mhealth. Incentivizing physicians is going to be a challenge.
3. Multiple stakeholders – clearly there is a need for inter-sectorial collaboration to make mhealth scalable, and successful. The government needs to provide oversight and the private sector needs to drive the innovation. There were many examples of successful private-public initiatives from around the world. The Switchboard partnership with Vodafone in Ghana is my favorite.
4. Data, data, data – with home monitoring and 24-7 data being created, there is going to be a need to analyze this data, and present it both to the patient and the physician in a meaningful way that drives appropriate treatment.
5. Training – there was really not much talk about this, but I think it’s critical that we start thinking about training physicians in technology and change management. This next decade will see radical transformations in medicine by technology, yet medical school curricula and their developers are not even thinking about providing in ehealth. While it may be difficult to train on specific technologies because the winners are not yet clear, we should certainly be thinking about training doctors in change management. Our next generation of doctors should be able to adapt to a rapidly evolving environment when they graduate.
I’m very energized by the conference and definitely hope to return next year. I will be writing about specific highlights in the days to come.