mHealth Summit 2014: ONC pondering mHealth for Meaningful Use Stage 3

From health IT initiatives to use of medical devices, government leaders spoke about what their agencies are doing to spur innovation and ensure regulation doesn't hold innovation back during a panel this week at the mHealth Summit near the District of Columbia.

At the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Jodi Daniel, the agency's director of the Office of Policy Planning, talked about a continuing shift in focus from electronic health records and Meaningful Use to thinking about how healthcare technology can be leveraged more broadly--including via mobile health.

Just this week the ONC released an updated federal health IT strategic plan. The framework centers around the sharing, collection and use of technology, and mHealth cuts across all of those, Daniel said.

Daniel added that in looking toward the third stage in Meaningful Use, the inclusion of patient-generated data is something ONC is thinking about.

When it comes to regulation of mHealth and medical devices, sometimes the appropriate regulation is no regulation, said Linda Ricci, biomedical engineer at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"We're not looking to regulate everything in this space," she said. "We are committed to only applying our regulatory authorities for the limited set of mHealth products that pose the highest risk to patients. We also want to continue to evolve in the regulatory area so that we can make our processes more transparent and easier to follow."

At the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services, Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak said they are working to leverage the skillsets of people inside the agency to change things and support innovation.

For example, the agency has an Ignite accelerator, for which people submit proposals for a three-month program where the agency gives them $5,000 to execute on their ideas. Teams for the most recent round were just selected this week; 13 were chosen out of 72 proposals, Sivak said.

Daniel and Sivak also spoke on the importance interoperability of systems and devices to advance health IT--and the market forces working against that.

"While there are some challenges with the technology, the real problems are policy issues, business issues and cultural change that needs to occur for interoperability to really happen," Daniel said.

If the ecosystem wants to decide to seamlessly share information back and forth, they will, Sivak added.

"It all comes down to following the money," he said. "As soon as it is important to a provider, important to a payer, important to a hospital for information to flow into them, then the vendors will make it easy."