October 2011 Archives
Last week, two trade shows were dueling for attention in the San Diego area - the Wireless Health 2011 conference, sponsored by the Wireless Life Sciences Alliance (WLSA), and the Cellular Telecom and Internet Association's (CTIA) Enterprise and Applications event.
While each showcased mHealth applications and services, attendees and presenters were significantly different. In one corner, Wireless Health featured academics and researchers who pontificated on the future of health care and, down the road apiece, CTIA exhibitors spun their messages on how they make current mHealth technologies work; how they get people, doctors, insurers, etc. to adopt them; and how they make money from their health care applications and services.
Now let me admit, I didn't attend either of these shows, but knew people who were there. I closely monitored the goings-on at each because in their own way, what happens at these shows can have a significant impact on the future of health care in our country.
The one thread that can be seen running through each show was wireless, or mobility. Delivering high-quality mHealth to the masses may be the important social change our society will experience since the Internet was born.
My basic take on the innovation and adoption of mHealth is that there needs to be a foundation for delivery of these services. The foundation, or thread, in this case, is the ability to ensure all this information flies through the air, unencumbered, secure, and with the highest-quality transmissions required to monitor, diagnosis and eventually treat patients remotely, especially down home in the rural areas.
This is done over mobile networks. Regardless of which mobile carrier is transmitting the data, all need to have enough airwaves, or spectrum, to do so. I've been told by a buddy of mine in the mobile industry that spectrum has always been viewed as "golden," and that, "you can never have enough spectrum." That has never been more true than today.
Roger Entner, CEO at Recon Analytics, a consulting firm, recently told USA Today that about 50% of mobile users in the world use smartphones. Just look at iPhone 4S sales in the past four days - over 4 million sold worldwide. Add to that the number of tablets being sold, the hundreds-of-thousands of applications run by people using those devices, and the spectrum capacity of mobile networks can be eaten up quickly.
Spectrum is essential and must be freed up for use by carriers to continue offering the kinds of services we want, and, in the case of health care, need, as we become more dependent on doing things anywhere, anyhow and anytime.
MY TAKE ON SPECTRUM
While other industries and services have been impacted by the economic doldrums of the past few years, wireless has continued to grow. Consumers and businesses rely more on their mobile devices than ever before, with many even abandoning their wired services in order to save money.
To all the real people, who depend on these services, spectrum means nothing - until it impacts their experience. They don't care about the technology and what's behind making the service work, just that their tablet or smartphone can access information quickly and they can make phone calls.
It's important then that the government act quickly to free up as much spectrum as possible to enable mobile carriers to continue offering the innovative services people want and need. In some cases this might entail re-evaluating the spectrum holdings of other industries that may not be using this valuable commodity to better serve their customers.
My Mama often said, "The flu is going around -- it's in the air." Well, at some point in the near future, health care will be in the air - and spectrum could be the remedy.
Leroy Jones, Jr.
For the past few years I've been updating you guys on different technologies, especially in the area of healthcare, and after screening through all the items I covered or wrote about, it finally hit me: "What does all this stuff mean to real people?"
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that innovation is part of our society - whether it comes from a garage in Silicon Valley or halfway around the world. Technology cruises on.
But technology for technology's sake isn't good enough. Technology has to solve an inherent problem, make our lives more fun, or allow us to work more productively. For health care, it needs to enhance the quality of service, reduce the cost of that service, and make those services available to more people.
We are at a point in time where tens-of-thousands of mobile applications are available to us on hundreds of devices. And they're not limited to smartphones.
Analysts now say that tablets are outselling laptop and
desktop computers. We live in a mobile world that has gone crazy with the
ability for people to do what they did at home, or in the office, anywhere,
anytime, on a device of their choosing.
Some applications are fun and others help us work more productively. Then there are those that have significant impact on our lives, and health.
Monitoring devices, services that offer home care for
seniors or home bound patients, and others that allow anyone connected to the
healthcare ecosystem to communicate and share information at the click of a
button - X-Rays, prescriptions, patient data, etc.
And this is surely the tip of the iceberg. New applications are developed and available daily, and it seems like each new or updated application delivers a more "feature rich" service.
For example, the heart monitoring service
that was available two years ago that displayed your heart rate in digits might
now have a chart that displays your heart rate in real time on a smartphone.
So technology isn't an issue, except that it stands alone. What's missing is how this all fits into our lives - how does this technology enhance our experience.
Sure, you can go to a conference where all these companies
show off their new, innovative solutions, but if no one knows where to get it,
how it works, what's the cost, will my insurance cover it, etc., then
technology is only good for a show - not real life.
Again, I'm not talking about the fun applications or the business applications - I'm talking about the ones that can add real meaning to our lives and those that can help ourselves and loved ones.
Think about this: there are
a number of applications and services that can help people avoid being placed
in assisted living facilities, but each comes with a caveat - there is usually
a need to have a computer and knowledge of how to use one to gain the major
Not sure about you, but I don't know many seniors in that stage
of their lives that can even understand, "point and click." I know my Mama
The reality is that our healthcare system is in shambles and there are a number of areas that need to fall into place if we want to see change.
can be a godsend to everyone in our country - especially those who can't afford
normal healthcare or those living in rural areas who currently have no access
to healthcare facilities or services -- and can have the greatest impact on
reforming the health care system.
Reform needs to be based on a combination of reality and technology. The health care ecosystem now spans a broad group of companies and industries, including health care, insurance and communications. These and others play significant roles in delivering the future of health care.
Over the coming weeks and months, I intend to walk through these different areas and show the links among them, and why things like services, investment, government, technology, regulations and reality need to come together to avoid all this mess.
It's going to be fun!!! :-)
Leroy Jones Jr.