HIMSS launching mobile health subgroup, mHIMSS

By Neil Versel
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Edna_BooneWith mobile healthcare growing as rapidly as it has, it was only a matter of time before the largest health IT trade group refined its efforts in this segment. That time is now.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is in the process of launching mHIMSS, its mobile initiative. mHIMSS began taking individual registrations among current HIMSS members on Nov. 2 and will start signing up corporate members Dec. 5, according to mHIMSS Senior Director Edna Boone. The subgroup's website, www.mhimss.org, will go live in just over a week.

"Our goal is to equip our members to harness the power of mobile," Boone tells MobiHealthNews.

mHIMSS mostly will be limited to HIMSS members, though some white papers, news and other resources will be made available to the general public, Boone says. A mobile app is in development, too.

The initiative has about 15-20 projects in the works, according to Boone, including a privacy-security toolkit specific to mobile and wireless technologies. The 2012 HIMSS annual conference, set for Feb. 20-24 in Las Vegas will, for the first time, feature a formal educational track on mobile health. Expect to see a "mobile knowledge center" on the show floor, where attendees can meet experts in mobile and wireless privacy, security, IT infrastructure and workflow.

Once again, the HIT X.0: Beyond the Edge subconference will showcase some emerging mobile technologies, too.

Next month, mHIMSS will name an advisory council to help engage various healthcare stakeholders. Boone, one of two HIMSS employees working full-time on mHIMSS, is making a point to assure that payers are involved, since the insurance industry has tended to be the missing piece in discussions about the financial viability of mobile healthcare technologies. The goal is to develop strategies for influencing healthcare policy as it relates to mobile and wireless.

"Technology has outpaced policy," Boone notes. She says HIMSS already has had discussions with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about how m-health can help reduce costs and improve outcomes for Medicare patients and has met with the Federal Communications Commission and the Food & Drug Administration about those two agencies' joint effort to create workable regulations for mobile devices.

Boone notes that HIMSS has an organizational goal of harnessing technology to transform healthcare, and mobility is about as transformative as it gets. "We've never really seen the kind of adoption rate as we've seen with mobile healthcare," she says.

Boone is aware of the large number of groups claiming to represent the mobile and wireless health industry, including the American Telemedicine Association, mHealth Alliance, mHealth Initiative, Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance, Continua Health Alliance and the planned Mobile Health Association. She says those organizations tend to have a narrow focus around specific constituencies or types of projects. "We see mHIMSS as an umbrella group" that will collaborate with those others and fill in any gaps, Boone says.

"I still don't think there's a group out there that's meeting provider needs."

HIMSS actually is one of the sponsors of the upcoming mHealth Summit, put on in part by the globally focused mHealth Alliance. mHIMSS will have a presence at that event, which will take place Dec. 5-7 in National Harbor, Md.

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