Continua-certified mobile phone presents re-branding opportunity for failed PHRs

I generally roll my eyes anytime someone comes to me with a story about how their personal health record will empower consumers, simplify information gathering for physicians and ultimately transform healthcare as we know it. (Seriously, hasn't anyone considered that standalone PHRs don't fit with physician workflow or that doctors tend not to trust outside data compiled by patients or health plans?)

So I'm not going to dwell on the PHR aspect of a prototype phone handset from Fujitsu that supposedly will allow patients to "collect and share their own medical data," according to eWeek. What's significant about this forthcoming product--initially to be available only in Japan--is that it is the first mobile phone to earn certification from the Continua Health Alliance, the global industry coalition interested in building interoperability into personal and consumer health products and applications.

Fujitsu showed the prototype of the Bluetooth-enabled phone, part of the NTT DoCoMo Prime series, at a consumer electronics show in Japan last week, and Continua President and Chair Rick Cnossen was to have delivered a keynote address at the event on Friday. "The phone will make it easier for people to manage their health," Fujitsu spokesman Adam Blankenship told eWeek. "It will connect wirelessly with a variety of personal medical equipment, as well as Web-based health services, to enable people to track their blood pressure, weight and other health indices."

Yeah, that part sounds more promising than a PHR. Clinicians managing patients with chronic diseases will more readily accept something that captures real data from home-based and wearable patient monitors. Maybe PHR vendors need to rethink their marketing strategies?

And speaking of telecoms and mobile healthcare, yours truly has been asked to moderate the opening keynote session of next week's Mobile Health Expo in Las Vegas. I'll be introducing David Kalb, director of machine-to-machine business development for AT&T; Dan Gillison, national healthcare director for Sprint; and Scott Ellis, telemedicine business development manager at T-Mobile. FierceMobileHealthcare Publisher Wendy Johnson and I also will be moderating several other sessions during the conference, so look for us. - Neil