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For anyone who follows health care, this week's Congressional hearing on the Internet had disappointing news. As FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai testified with evident exasperation halfway through the 3-hour hearing, "The FCC has impeded the IP transition, making it harder for carriers to leave behind the fading copper networks of yesterday and focus on building next generation networks."
The health care implications of this problem are huge. "Internet Protocol" is a revolutionary system for transferring data. Exactly two years ago, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called America's transition to this technology the "fourth network revolution." He enthusiastically talked about the "innovation, investment, ideas, and ingenuity" that IP would create and "spillover effects [that would] transform society...."
Nowhere will the spread of IP do more good than with healthcare. IP systems will allow the next generation of health care monitoring and treatment. The technology will facilitate medical specialists' abilities to give real-time advice in operating rooms a thousand miles away. It will give new hope and access to those who can't leave home.
But now this progress is delayed and so is the mass adoption of the amazing healthcare benefits that IP makes possible. Why? Because the FCC inexplicably seems to be turning its back on the smart regulatory policies created by President Clinton. Those policies, which helped drive so much progress and investment in the Internet, are one of President Clinton's great legacies.
Instead, as the hearing made clear, the FCC now seems focused on regulating tomorrow's Internet with rules from the early twentieth century. As Congress heard, these rules are confusing and legally questionable. The matter is now in front of a federal court, which will hear the case next month but probably not rule until well into 2016.
This is puzzling, dismaying and incredibly disappointing. We are delaying some of the greatest advances in health care history while Federal lawyers try to figure out how to apply an 80-year-old telephone law to a world in which a surgeon could be offering real-time help on a complex operation taking place in a different state.
The problems with this situation are so evident and so severe that Congress must step in. The last time Congress passed a communications law was in 1996, when Internet access for most people involved a 56 kbps connection over a phone line.
There should be no more delays to either health care or the IP transition. Congress, you need to take action.
What does it all mean, well check out this interesting article on Meaningful Use and mHealth:
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.
second major report in six months on the growing
worldwide threat from noncommunicable diseases,
especially the five biggest killers:
cancer, heart disease, stroke,
lung disease and diabetes."
is a collaborative process through which people with or at risk
for diabetes gain the knowledge and skills needed to modify behavior and
successfully self-manage the disease and its related chronic