The more things change...


I'm right in between speaking engagements. I leave tomorrow for Toronto, where I'll present Thursday morning in at the Mobile Healthcare and Medicine Symposia, part of a fairly big deal called Mobile Innovation Week.

Last week, as you probably know from reading today's issue, I was in San Diego, where I was a keynote speaker at the mHealth Initiative's 2nd International mHealth Networking Conference. There, I gave a talk entitled, "Evolution of the Revolution" (you can find the slides here), and also was honored to participate in a panel discussion with the likes of Dr. John Mattison, chief medical information officer for Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Paulanne Balch, who's the physician lead for Kaiser's HealthConnect messaging service, and mHealth Initiative co-founder C. Peter Waegemann. (I'll have more on that next week.)

What struck me was the rapid pace of change in mobile healthcare, especially when you compare it to the glacial pace of progress in other facets of healthcare. And also, as the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

You'll see in this week's issue a story about a new PricewaterhouseCoopers survey report on consumer and physician attitudes toward remote monitoring devices and apps. I'd like to thank the PwC publicist for sending me an embargoed copy of the report the night before the official release, because I was able to incorporate some of the results into my presentation. Notably, I pointed out that 51 percent of consumers wouldn't buy mobile health technology right now. "Consumer apathy still prevails," I said, projecting the PwC finding next to a 2008 story I wrote about an ill-fated phone-based PHR project that Waegemann himself championed.

Another great paradox is in a story I showed from 2002, in which I quoted a physician-developer of "encounter capture" software for personal digital assistants as saying, "The technology has finally evolved." That got a chuckle. Just an hour before I spoke, Waegemann noted that the potentially huge m-health market "is something that's still in its infancy."

It's taking a long time for the infant to grow up, yet mobile health is perhaps the most disruptive type of technology this industry has seen. Physicians have to be paid extra and threatened with future reimbursement cuts to adopt EMRs, but tens of thousands of them, by some estimations, have already plunked down $500 or more for their very own iPad. Go figure. - Neil

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