mHealth gets its due at HIMSS 2013

With the Health Information and Management Systems Society annual conference being held this week in New Orleans, it's amazing to see how far mHealth has come in gaining acceptance within an organization that for years has traditionally been focused on mainstay health IT issues such as electronic health records. HIMSS's embrace of mHealth has never been as evident as it is at this year's conference.

Just a cursory look at the agenda for the 2013 HIMSS conference reveals mHealth is gaining prominence and mindshare in the "granddaddy" of all health IT shows. "mHealth is a force to be reckoned with," wrote mHIMSS editor Eric Wicklund in a March 1 blog. "From the pre-conference workshops on Sunday to the Exhibit Hall to the education sessions and keynotes, mobile healthcare is rapidly emerging as one of the most intriguing aspects of the ever-shifting healthcare landscape."

However, HIMSS only recently jumped on the mHealth bandwagon. It's worth noting that it's been just a little more than a year since HIMSS officially expanded into the mobile healthcare arena with the creation in December 2011 of mHIMSS, its mobile initiative. And, in a shrewd move last year, HIMSS acquired the mHealth Summit from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, taking the helm of the preeminent mobile healthcare conference.

As a caused-based organization, HIMSS has long supported widespread adoption of health IT to contribute to higher-quality, more cost-effective patient care, and in particular has been an outspoken advocate of the EHR "Meaningful Use" rules established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). With HIMSS's laser-like focus on EHR, you can hardly blame the organization for being late to the mHealth party.

After all, Stages 1 and 2 of Meaningful Use are primarily concerned with EHR implementation and clinical measures. In fact, in the Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules published by CMS in September 2012 the word "mobile" is mentioned only once in the entire 672-page document.

But, there can be no denying, as the World Health Organization states, that "mHealth is a component of eHealth." If eHealth is the most important revolution in healthcare since the advent of modern medicine, as some say, then mHealth is the pillar of that revolution serving as a powerful and ubiquitous platform for delivering critical health information via smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Consequently, the time has come for mHealth to take its rightful place in the overall health IT strategy. The HIMSS 2013 conference is a good indicator that we are moving in that direction. - Greg (@Slabodkin)