FCC holds inaugural mHealth Innovation Expo

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today held its first-ever mHealth Innovation Expo at its headquarters in Washington. The inaugural event, hosted by the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, showcased mobile healthcare products and solutions at the expo. Approximately 20 mHealth innovators and entrepreneurs from the public and private sector were on hand to demonstrate the latest technologies. 

"The FCC remains committed to accelerating the adoption of mobile health technologies in order to improve outcomes and to, of course, lower costs," FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn told the audience. "But, we realized early on that only through collaboration will all this happen."

Towards that end, FCC Director of Health Care Initiatives Matthew Quinn announced at the expo that three industry thought leaders are now members of the FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee, which will advise the agency on healthcare issues including mHealth. They include: Robert Jarrin, Qualcomm's Senior Director of Government Affairs; Julian Goldman, M.D., Medical Director of Biomedical Engineering for Partners HealthCare, and Doug Trauner, CEO of Health Analytic Services, Inc. (TheCarrot.com). All three served as co-chairs of the FCC mHealth Task Force that made recommendations in September 2012 to speed the adoption of mobile health technologies.

Though healthcare is not necessarily the agency's core mission, the FCC "from the beginning has played an essential role in bringing together the diverse members of this nascent [mHealth] industry to produce tangible policy outcomes," said Jarrin, applauding the creation earlier this year of the Healthcare Working Group within the FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee. 

Clyburn emphasized the importance of physicians, technologists, and broadband providers working together to "harness technology to transform medicine and deliver healthcare more affordably and effectively." She referenced the fact that last year the FCC voted to allocate 40 megahertz of spectrum in the 2360-2400 MHz band for Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs) and posted its final rules.

"These networks can provide a last meter wireless link to eliminate the wires and cables that currently tether a patient to the monitor," said Clyburn. "This gives those patients more freedom of movement and the enhanced ability to walk and exercise, which could result in more rapid recovery and discharge. Ultimately, this could improve patient care and reduce overall health costs."

In addition, she argued that broadband-powered health solutions have the potential to be a "great equalizer" in poor and underserved communities, but warned that "if these 21st century health solutions are only available at our most advanced research hospitals and to our wealthiest of citizens then, my friends, we have failed."

"FCC can do its part to ensure that Americans have access to broadband and to allocate spectrum so that we can all take part in the fourth great network revolution," said Quinn. "We'll be at the table as the peoples' representatives but app developers, technologists need to compete to make products that people love and that doctors and that health system chief information officers trust."

To learn more:
- read the announcement