CTIA Panel: Meet the Wireless Health Leaders

By Brian Dolan
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Tim Gee, Principal, Medical Connectivity Consulting, was kind enough to write-up the first sessions at our Everywhere Healthcare event last week at CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment event in San Diego. What follows is Tim's notes from the session (including some commentary from him in parenthetical asides.)

Brian Dolan, co-founder and editor of MobiHealthNews kicked off the event by highlighting some of the key wireless health stories that MobiHealthNews has published over the past several months. MobiHealthNews' most emailed story to date is an interview with Scott Eising, director of product management for Mayo Clinic's Internet Services. Another hot story was Aetna's repurposing online content through an iPhone app. Last week, MobiHealthNews ran a story about Safeway and their practice of providing financial bonuses to employees maintain a "healthy" BMI, lower cholesterol, or improve their health in other ways. Another article of note described CardioNet's plans to extend its business model beyond ambulatory cardiac arrhythmia diagnostic testing to chronic disease management. This past summer, MobiHealthNews reported on Best Buy's push to become a channel for providing wireless health to consumers. At TEPR+, Brian reported on comments made by FDA scientist Don Witters. During his presentation, Don suggested that the iPhone could indeed meet the legal definition of a regulated medical device.

The first session following Brian's presentation was a panel discussion, titled "Meet the Wireless Health Leaders." The panel included Kent Dicks, CEO, MedApps; Don Jones, VP, Health & Life Sciences, Qualcomm; Mike Srivathsa, VP, Corventis; David Inns, CEO, GreatCall/JitterBug; Jon Linkous, founding CEO American Telemedicine Association; and Rob McCray, Chairman, Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance moderated the session.

Rob noted that the panel intended to represent the wireless health landscape. Rob characterized the wireless health opportunity as a way to target under served populations -- the uninsured in the US, in addition to those in developing markets around the world. Don Jones described wireless health as the ability to present the right information and interaction, with the right person (patient or provider), in the right place and at the right time. He suggested that "monitoring" itself does not play a big role presently, but noted that numerous sensor technologies are coming to market. He characterized these medical sensors as "accessories" -- a term with important FDA regulatory implications.

Rob asked the ATA's Jon Linkous to list the key questions that concern taking health care services outside the walls of the hospital. Jon noted that wireless health is transformative, compared to typical evolutionary technology advancements in health care. He noted that Congress is struggling with this transformation, especially in the context of health reform. Questions include whether reform will leverage wireless health through reimbursement, or whether it will quash the market through cuts in care expenditures. The FTC is also looking into the implication of wireless health and how it impacts the delivery of health care across the borders of both states and countries.

Jitterbug's David Inns talked about the self pay market in health care. The 65-year-old and older demographic represent a majority of health care costs, Inns said. The iPhone is a great product, but it is not going to make an impact on that demographic. This group requires considerably more customer service and support than typical consumer electronics products, Inns said. The Jitterbug platform is growing through the addition of "services," as opposed to "apps" or new hardware accessories.