America's adoption of wireless is accelerating and, as a result, so is our ability to help those without access to proper healthcare.
I have lived with the reality of my Mama's chronic illness, and then later took on the job as the primary caregiver of my father at the end of his life. I have experienced what you could and could not do when helping to take care of loved ones who are sick.
Now the technology that could have helped to improve their quality of life is at our fingertips. mHealth has changed medicine, but there is room for even more applications and services. Our country has made a lot of progress in expanding mHealth services - but there certainly is room for even more growth.
That reality also puts an important spotlight on federal wireless policy - specifically the FCC's upcoming spectrum incentive auction and the need for rules that ensure equal access for all participants.
Last week, the federal government released its latest figures on Americans' wireless habits. According to the survey, the number of "wireless only" American homes has risen to more than 45%. More than half of all adults aged 18-44 and children under 18 live in wireless-only households.
But the implications become even more significant by factoring in two additional points. First, almost three in five (59%) adults living under the poverty line are in wireless-only households, compared with 42% of higher income adults. Second, wireless-only substitution seems once again to be accelerating.
Back in 2012-13, the rate of wireless-only household growth fell from 10% to about 7%. But during 2013-14, this growth rate jumped back to more than 10%.
As more people adopt wireless technology, mHealth becomes a more valuable tool with an unmatched ability to reach those most in need of better healthcare - and this ability is growing. The four leading health problems for African-Americans are cancer, strokes, diabetes and heart disease. Each of these can be better diagnosed, treated and monitored with a smartphone and mHealth services.
The surge in mobile reliance and our own self-empowerment to promote our own health should also be a clear signal to federal regulators about next year's wireless spectrum auction. This event's impact will shape our ability to use wireless service for decades. So it's vital that the FCC, which manages the auction, resist calls to micromanage the auction rules by favoring some companies over others. The only results will be costly delays and lawsuits as everyone schemes to game the rules.
All mobile Internet users and consumers of all mobile experiences deserve for their provider to be able to bid on the spectrum needed to bring these health-empowering services to each of us. The FCC should not favor some consumers' companies over others; let us all be able to reach forward and grasp the benefits of today's modern life-enhancing mobile technology.
The expansion of mHealth technology has helped improve health care for many Americans in underserved areas. The upcoming spectrum auction is the next crucial step in ensuring more Americans have access to the health services they need, whether they live in a rural town or a major city.
Much has changed, but more work is needed to make things better.