Hopes, ideas, and hundreds of apps, are floating in the hallways during the third annual mHealth Summit, marking the beginnings of a field that is still in its infancy and carries with it more questions than answers.
The federal government is pushing mHealth, launching programs like the Healthy Apps Challenge, which Dr. Regina Benjamin, the U.S. Surgeon General, introduced in her keynote speech. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, introduced the SmokeFreeTXT program, a text messaging service that helps teens quit smoking. Ms. Sebelius also established the Text4Health Task Force last year to look at other uses of texting in promoting healthy behavior.
“As our phones get more powerful, they are becoming our primary tools for doing everything from getting directions to deciding where to eat, Ms. Sebelius said during her keynote speech on Monday. “And increasingly, that includes using our phones to track, manage, and improve our health. In the iTunes store alone, there are nearly 12,000 different apps related to health – a number that will probably have gone up by the time I finish speaking.”
New apps and programs are also being introduced throughout dozens of presentations. And the Exhibit Hall is bustling with booths and posters about different national and global apps and programs addressing a wide range of health issues, from diabetes to mental health to medication adherence and weight loss. But many questions remain: What iss the role of regulatory agencies like the FDA and FCC? What’s the role of the physicians? And what does the future hold?
Joseph A. Cafazzo, Ph.D., the lead for the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto provided some interesting answers, which you can watch — and comment on — below.
Check back with us, or follow me on Twitter for more from the summit.
—Naseem S. Miller (On Twitter @NaseemSMiller)