HIMSS finally unplugs, embraces mobile

By Brian Dolan
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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsIn Atlanta this week wireless really was everywhere. The Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2010 offered free WiFi service to all its attendees and it worked (almost) everywhere. Nearly every major electronic health records (EHR) vendor had a smartphone strategy announcement or at least one in their back pocket. Thanks to the smartphone buzz, applications that were once desktop only, like Merge Healthcare's eFilm, launched smartphone applications at HIMSS. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse kicked off the event with an overview of the opportunities wireless technologies present when applied to the healthcare industry.

Hesse's keynote pushed the typical conversation at HIMSS beyond not just its technological comfort zone but also beyond the real of healthcare information management systems and into opportunities around mobile phone enabled chronic care management. Hesse presented close to a dozen examples for wireless health applications -- from Welldoc's virtual coaching system for chronic disease management to live streaming Blu-Ray quality video feeds to 4G smartphones. Hesse noted that stepping into a hospital these days is like stepping back to the 1970s -- but wireless could help healthcare catch up from its time lag.

At last year's HIMSS event Allscripts made headlines for launching an iPhone app that made parts of its EHR available to clinicians from their smartphone. Shortly thereafter the company launched a BlackBerry app with similar capabilities. At HIMSS this year, Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman told MobiHealthNews during an interview that the Android platform is the one they are eyeing next -- a common theme among medical application developers exhibiting at HIMSS. The wait-and-see for Android is growing, and many vendors just want a little good news on the adoption front among healthcare practitioners. Many of these same developers are quick to dismiss Palm, too. More on these topics later this week.

This week's stories include big news for mobile health -- At HIMSS Epocrates announced plans to launch its own EHR offering with a rich, fully functional mobile version available at launch; Elsewhere, the West Wireless Health Institute made two key appointments to its executive team; The FDA is losing a medical device chief, but Microsoft (and the connected health industry) has gained a lobbyist; The White House's HIT Summit signaled a possible regulation of the mHealth industry, while Continua said the FDA thinks no new laws are likely; Tablet makers tell MobiHealthNews at HIMSS that wireless is on the up and up and the iPad may be good for them; These and much, much more this week in MobiHealthNews...

While HIMSS is just about coming to a close here in Atlanta, coverage from the dozens of interviews and informal conversations the MobiHealthNews team had on the showfloor is well underway. Expect more interviews and coverage from HIMSS through the rest of the week!

P.S. MobiHealthNews was making it's own news at HIMSS, too. If you haven't heard, our first research report MobiHealthNews Presents: The World of Health & Medical Apps is now on sale for $99. Get the numbers around health apps -- put data behind your app strategy today!

CORRECTION: The newsletter version of this column had Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman's name wrong. My apologies for the confusion. More from Tullman and his team soon.

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