mHealth Day 2: Morning Highlights

September 9, 2010
Sean Johnson

Day 2 at the mHealth conference in San Diego featured some discussion on Meaningful Use, EHRs, mobile applications, and much more.

Day 2 at the mHealth conference in San Diego featured some discussion on Meaningful Use, EHRs, mobile applications, and much more.

The first big discussion this morning featured mHealth VP Peter Waegemann giving a presentation about how mHealth could use the Meaningful Use initiative as a springboard for revolutionizing the delivery of care. He began the presentation by saying that, if an intelligent creature from another planet came to earth, they would be a bit bewildered. They’d likely be impressed with the fact that many people spend so much time getting an education at college, graduate school, medical school, etc, but that no one on earth has access to an electronic medical record that covers their entire medical history since birth. All records are scattered through different mediums and across different organizations, and the record as a whole is a complete mess. When we look around at the technological and organizational advancements that we have made as a species, said Waegemann, it’s simply baffling that there hasn’t been more progress in such an important area.

Waegemann then selected several snippets of text from the Meaningful Use documents and proposed some ideas for how mHealth initiatives could act as a solution for many issues related to communication and Meaningful Use in general. But, as always, the same pitfalls seem to exist: interoperability, privacy, etc. So while Waegemann had several great ideas when it comes to clinicians using stimulus money and incentives to help them incorporate electronic health record and other mobile health applications, he was quick to mention there are still variables that need sorting out. What platform(s) should be used? How can we get the appropriate thought leaders and organizational leaders on the same page to incorporate the technology at our disposal for better patient care? The mHealth conference has brought together many people who need to be in the know, but advancements in mobile health still hinge on the proper organizational leaders coming together and making sure the right priorities are in place to get the job done. Who/what organization(s) will step forward to really accomplish such lofty goals? Only time will tell.

Up after Waegemann was HCPLive physician blogger Joe Kim, who also presented to a packed room. The topic, Mobile Applications and Clinical Outcomes, outlined a myriad of ways in which applications and social media can help physicians. Dr. Kim provided a couple examples of physicians who are championing the use of Twitter, such as Wafik S. El-Deiry, PhD, Chief of hematology/oncology at Penn State Hershey Cancer Institue, who said he regularly uses Twitter to tell colleagues about advancements in genetics and therapies related to cancer. But in addition to notifying colleagues in real time and interacting with others who have similar interests, Dr. Kim noted one underappreciated way in which Twitter is very valuable. By reacting to information that users are using for the first time, they can always go back and take a look at a stream of their thoughts, which can help to remind them of certain ideas they might have otherwise forgotten about.

Dr. Kim also focused a lot on the helpfulness of applications in the medical world; in fact, one study that Dr. Kim referenced stated that over 40% of doctors have reported avoiding two or more drug interactions in a week by using applications like Epocrates. By presenting real world examples and case studies, Dr. Kim was able to show the audience that the brave new world of social media and mobile applications are nothing to be afraid of, and that they actually work in making physicians’ lives a little easier when used properly. It may seem like a small accomplishment to stand up in fornt of a crowd and preach about the usefulness of social media, but the unfortunate fact, as Kim stated, is that many physicians are very resistant to social media and are "stuck in their ways." But judging by the rumblings and grumblings around the room as he presented, his anecdotes and own personal experience seemed to really resonate with those in the audience.

Rounding out the morning sessions was Fred Trotter, who thoroughly impressed the audience with his technically savvy presentation. Knowing full well that many mHealth attendees were utilizing Twitter to cover the conference live and network with other attendees at the conference, Trotter set up his presentation with a nifty little tool called Status Present, which allowed him to post tweets about his presentation as he presented it live. (We later learned that Status Present is actually a program that Trotter created himself.) By doing this, Trotter initiated another way to interact with the audience, and encouraged attendees to submit questions and comments that he would get to later. His technically savvy approach was the perfect complement and follow-up to Dr. Kim’s presentation, and only strengthened Kim’s sentiments.

Trotter, the director of a company called Cautious Patient, was displaying some impressive developments in the field of audio-meets-healthcare. He is currently working on setting up a system in which physicians can communicate and send audio files to patients with assessments, instructions, answers to questions, and anything else that might need explaining. It’s an interesting field to be in just because it’s another way in which patients can interact with their doctor. Of course, they are privacy concerns associated with such personal information; however, Trotter is working toward making the service as secure as possible. Once this is taken care of, the company can then begin to think about transcribing the data and then extracting meaningful data from those transcriptions. It’s an area of mHealth to really keep an eye on because once privacy concerns are taken care of there’s some real potential there.

Stay tuned for highlights from the afternoon sessions.