During his keynote this morning at the mHI event in Washington D.C., the FCC's Digital Healthcare Director Dr. Mohit Kaushal pointed to Haiti earthquake survivor Dan Woolley's use of an iPhone first aid application to treat his own compound fractured leg and head wound: "This miraculous story would not have been possible a few years ago... but it's just the tip of the ice berg," Kaushal said. Kaushal predicted that with the FCC's national broadband policy [set to be published in March], many more of these types of mHealth stories will be made possible.
Kaushal made note of the thousands of health-related mobile applications and pointed to AirStrip Technologies, Corventis, Intel Health Guide and Medtronic as examples of companies working in the space.
Mobile will have a huge role in transforming healthcare, Kaushal said. This growing industry is a potential source of economic growth and job creation. The FCC's broadband plan is hoping to advance mHealth, but there are still a number of barriers. Infrastructure, wireless spectrum, regulation concerns, reimbursement and payment reform are all key issues that the FCC believes are important to the growth of mHealth.
The key critical barrier that the FCC aims to address, however, is the connectivity problem: While wireless networks cover more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, thousands more remain uncovered, Kaushal said. That's one area the FCC hopes to affect change and revamp its rural healthcare program.
While most of the discussion of wireless health regulation typically centers on the FDA's role, Kaushal said his team is working very closely with the FDA on crafting the appropriate regulations. Kaushal also said that he agreed that costly and time intensive regulations would only hold this industry back and his team's priority is to do the opposite and even streamline the certification process for some wireless devices intended for use in healthcare.
Kaushal concluded by apologizing for not being able to share more specifics, but the FCC's national broadband plan will be release in March.