CTIA- The Wireless Association Forum: Medical and Policy Experts Agree Wireless Technology Makes Healthcare More Efficient, Effective and Patient-Focused

Wireless Industry Reminds Congress of Numerous Benefits of Deploying Wireless Technologies for Healthcare and Encourages Them to Include mHealth Solutions as Reimbursable Medical Expenses

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun 24, 2009 - Federal government officials and policy and medical experts spoke at this morning's “mHealth Solutions and Policy Forum,” hosted by CTIA-The Wireless Association®, to discuss mobile medical applications and their numerous benefits including reducing costs and errors, removing geographical and economic disparities and reinforcing consumer-focused and personalized healthcare. From remote monitoring and accessing critical health information on the go, to creating personal channels of communications between healthcare providers and patients, speakers presented numerous real-life examples of how mobile wireless technologies and applications are helping to improve health for millions of Americans, regardless of geographic location, race, age, gender or disability.

The U.S. healthcare system costs $2.2 trillion each year, or about 16 percent of the gross domestic product. Currently, the Obama Administration and Congress are working to determine the best way to fix this system and bring greater service and cost efficiency. While the plans of how this can be accomplished are still being discussed, today's speakers agreed that wireless technology is a major part of the solution since more than 270 million in the U.S. and 4.1 billion in the world have wireless access.

Speakers at the “mHealth Solutions and Policy Forum” were notable medical and policy experts including U.S. Representative and Member of the 21st Century Health Care Caucus Adam Smith (D-WA-9); Chief Medical Officer of the West Wireless Health Institute and Chief Academic Officer for Scripps Health Eric Topol, M.D. and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Fellow Dan Fletcher, PhD.

mHealth solutions today use off-the-shelf applications and technology such as text messaging and mobile voice to prompt patients to take medication, follow a certain diet, engage in physical activity, check their glucose levels, take their blood pressure, detect cardiac arrhythmias and more. By making healthcare more personal and individualized, mHealth solutions are expected to significantly improve the medical community's ability to resolve epidemics, reduce medical errors and expand preventive healthcare.

In addition, mHealth can make a tremendous impact on chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In the U.S., more than 45 percent of Americans suffer from at least one of these diseases and approximately a quarter of the population has multiple conditions. According to Richard Adler's Health Care Unplugged: The Evolving Role of Wireless Technology report, if patients suffering from chronic conditions agreed to have their doctor monitor them remotely via mobile wireless applications, (i.e. monitor patients' health and track and guide self-care beyond the doctors' offices), the savings would amount to $21.1 billion per year by reducing emergency care, hospitalization and nursing home costs. mHealth would allow the millions of Americans living in remote, rural areas to “visit” the best doctors' offices in the country, eliminating healthcare disparities based on geographic location and economic differences.

The Forum's experts highlighted the need for Congress to ensure healthcare reforms encourage the implementation of mHealth solutions and are made accessible to millions of Americans, especially for preventive care. For example, the speakers agreed that a definition of “meaningful use” should be broad enough to include mHealth solutions, and revisions to Medicare be implemented to add mHealth solutions as being covered services subject to reimbursement. These kinds of policies are critical to the medical and wireless industry's efforts to bring better healthcare services to millions of Americans.

Today's speakers are also leading medical innovators who are applying existing, commonly used mobile applications to address a variety of chronic care and other health conditions:

 

  • Dan Fletcher, PhD; White House Office of Science and Technology Policy – oversaw the development of the CellScope, a cameraphone-microscope. The device takes focused pictures at up to 50x magnification, enough to see red blood cells and the Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria. Modified versions of the scope can also diagnose tuberculosis, skin conditions, dangerous insect bites and abnormal mole growth
  • Jonathan Javitt, M.D., MPH; CEO, Telcare – helped develop the Telcheck™, a glucose meter which transmits daily glucose readings to a patient's caregiver (e.g. physician, nurse/case manager or pharmacist) and relays daily coaching to the patient. It may also be used to link a child with diabetes to a parent or an elderly parent with diabetes to an adult child. In addition, Telcare will launch the Telflo™ wireless peak flow meter for asthma which combines monitoring technology with wireless communications. Physicians and parents will be alerted when a child falls below respiratory flow safe levels or when a child stops testing in the prescribed manner.
  • Justin Sims; CEO, Voxiva – Voxiva's mHealth applications include appointment reminders, sent via SMS (text), email or phone. Reminders can be two-way so patients can either confirm or cancel their appointments. They also offer “daily diaries,” a personal record to keep track of treatments which can be accessed through the phone, text messages or through a web interface to review or to share with others.
  • Richard J. Katz, M.D.; Director, Division of Cardiology and Director, Cheney Cardiovascular Institute, The George Washington University Hospital – principle investigator for a trial using the “Pill Phone” to improve medication adherence of hypertensive medications in a Medicaid population. He is also principle investigator for “DC Health Connect,” a cell phone program to manage diabetes and hypertension in Washington, DC health clinics.
  • Jay Bernhardt, M.D.; Director, Center for National Health Marketing, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – currently using emerging mobile technologies to increase the dissemination and potential impact of CDC's science by reaching wider and more diverse audiences, and tailoring specific health messages to meet unique challenges, such as the response to H1N1 and natural disasters such as hurricanes. The CDC is using mobile technology to facilitate interactive communication and community - thereby empowering people to make healthier and safer decisions.

“The high caliber of healthcare industry leaders and policy experts who were here today to exchange ideas and discuss how wireless technology is reshaping our healthcare system in the U.S. and around the world was remarkable. Throughout the morning, these experts agreed and reiterated that the wireless industry is a major part of the healthcare solution,” said Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association. “CTIA and our member companies are looking forward to working with these experts, the Administration, Congress and others involved in the healthcare industry to continue innovating, developing and applying technology to bring the vast benefits of wireless healthcare to consumers.”

“Today's speakers highlighted numerous cost-effective solutions that use wireless technology and services to reduce healthcare costs and expand affordable healthcare options for millions of people who don't have access to quality medical treatment,” said Representative Smith. “These tools can be utilized to provide care to millions of people around the globe – especially in developing countries where mobile communications are currently ˜leapfrogging' traditional landline communications. For example, wireless technology can be used to ensure that patients with infectious diseases like TB follow their treatments, possibly curing many patients around the world and decreasing the incidence of drug resistant strains.”

“It is exciting to have these experienced leaders in the wireless industry, healthcare community and from our government, come together to raise critical awareness for wireless health solutions and innovative sensor technologies,” said Topol. “Through this unprecedented convergence, we will join the current Administration with the collective goal of lowering the overwhelming cost of healthcare and providing a higher standard of healthcare around the world.”

CTIA is the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry, representing carriers, manufacturers and wireless Internet providers.
www.ctia.org

Contact: CTIA-The Wireless Association
Amy Storey
202-736-3207

Posted: June 2009

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