There's a help wanted sign hanging outside the Federal Communications Commission these days--virtually, that is. Last month, the FCC officially began its search for a Director of Health Care Initiatives, a position with a lot of responsibility and a lot riding on it for the FCC and the nation as a whole.
According to the agency, the Director of Health Care Initiatives in the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis will "lead the FCC's efforts in facilitating and promoting communications technologies and services that improve the quality of health care for all citizens and help reduce health care costs; facilitating the availability of medical devices that use spectrum; and ensuring hospitals and other health care facilities have required connectivity."
The hunt to find a suitable job candidate is in direct response to a September 2012 recommendation by the mHealth Task Force--in fact, it was their very first recommendation, a clear message about the importance of filling the position. As envisioned by the Task Force, the FCC's Director of Health Care Initiatives should provide a "single point of contact for addressing healthcare related barriers and opportunities" and an "important liaison with other federal agencies."
The FCC's official vacancy announcement for the job was posted on Monster's government website. The members of the mHealth Task Force asked that they be contacted if and when the position is posted in order to assist the FCC in conducting outreach to attract talented applicants. I hope the agency has enlisted the Task Force's help in this regard. Finding the right candidate for the position with the requisite experience and skills is a tall order indeed.
The Commission has many balls in the air right now and the Director of Health Care Initiatives will need to be a master juggler who is able to effectively multi-task and get things accomplished in Washington--no small feat. In the area of spectrum policy alone, the agency is moving forward on multiple fronts with Medical Body Area Networks, Medical Micropower Networks, Medical Device Radio Communications Service, and wireless medical device testing. And, most recently, the FCC announced it is making $400 million available to healthcare providers in order to create and expand telemedicine networks nationwide as part of its new Healthcare Connect Fund.
If nothing else, the FCC's much-anticipated hire of a Director of Health Care Initiatives will demonstrate that it is serious about mHealth and will help to quiet critics of the agency who charge that the FCC has not moved fast enough in advancing mobile healthcare. Once the new position has been filled, the FCC will be better situated to play a central role in enabling new healthcare technologies for our nation that leverage wireless communications and broadband connectivity. Greg (@Slabodkin)