Q&A: Richard Scarfo talks about this year's summit - and the future

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

Richard Scarfo has been at the helm of the mHealth Summit since its launch seven years ago, and this year sees him overseeing the most significant changes in the conference's history. The vice president of the Personal Connected Health Alliance sits down with mHealth News to answer a few questions.

Q. The 2015 mHealth Summit is one of three separate summits planned under the Connected Health umbrella. Why the change? What will this year's attendees see that's different from past summits?

A. HIMSS recognized the growing importance and impact mobile and connected health technologies are playing in disrupting care delivery, and created an all-inclusive event to address the needs of healthcare providers, innovators, investors, regulators and developers. We are adding two new summits that will address the use of personal health technologies that are improving chronic disease management – the Population Health Summit  and the need for effective privacy and security guidelines and policies to protect an individual's personal health information – the CyberSecurity Summit.

[Learn more about the 2015 mHealth Summit.]

With three dynamic summits under one roof, attendees can expect highly-charged panel discussions that will take a deep dive into issues such as how mobile and connected health technologies can improve the quality of care and clinical outcomes, empower individuals to take greater control of their health and wellness, strategies to reduce healthcare costs, vetted initiatives to ensure the safety of personal health data, and much, much more. Industry-leading keynotes, an interactive and highly specialized exhibit floor and pre-conference and special events will round out four days of some of the best content and discussion, as well as networking and business opportunities to advance the adoption of mobile and connected health.

In addition, we are, for the first time, offering CME credit for two clinical care tracks. These sessions will focus on how provider initiatives are using connected health technologies as a way to improve workflow, care transitions and care coordination in order to improve outcomes, engagement and enhance the patient experience.

Q. What are the new trends that we'll be seeing this year?

A. This year, we have invited a number of government and policy officials to join the discussion regarding the future of healthcare delivery and the implementation of mobile and connected health technologies in care settings. We will also have delegations from a number of forward-thinking countries, like Denmark, already taking bold steps to use connected health programs to help keep their citizens healthier. These countries provide excellent examples of the impact health technologies can make in chronic disease management, as well as the value of interoperability, as seen by their adoption of Continua's Design Guidelines. We've also created a number of new opportunities for companies to showcase their products and services, by adding presentation stages right on the exhibit floor.

Q. How has the move toward consumer-facing mHealth products affected how providers are using the technology?

A. The explosion of personal health technologies has been, and will continue to be, a real game-changer. Healthcare 'consumers' – patients – have come to expect a high level of service, online capabilities and instant access to products and services. This is pushing hospitals and healthcare providers to integrate these technologies into their systems. At the same time, individuals are using trackers, sensors, smartphones and other devices to personally monitor their activity, sleep, nutrition and even vital signs like blood pressure. We are seeing providers and hospital systems taking important steps to securely integrate this data into their patient's health records and utilize it to get a more accurate picture of their patient's day-to-day health and wellness.

Q. Take a look into your crystal ball and tell us what the mHealth landscape will look like when the 2016 mHealth Summit comes around. What will be different?

A. I think the biggest thing we will see in the next year is the number of healthcare providers, including hospital administrators, chief technology officers and front-line care providers, who are embracing mobile and connected health strategies. This year, there are more and more providers who will be participating in the HIMSS Connected Health Symposium, and we have created very focused events and content to address their specific challenges and opportunities. The interest and involvement of health systems and providers, we believe, will continue to grow exponentially, and we are already thinking about ways to enhance our provider program even more for the 2016 summit.