VA mobile gets boost from House panel, advances plans for patient Wi-Fi

Wireless and mobile technology represent "the new frontier in health innovations," as well as a great way of increasing access to care for millions of veterans, Rep. Michael F. Michaud (D-Maine) said at a hearing of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health, which he chairs.

"Mobile health makes it possible for healthcare professionals to receive real-time health data such as vital signs, glucose levels and medication compliance because data from the patient's mobile sensors are relayed over wireless connections," Michaud added, according to Healthcare IT News.

Others at last Wednesday's hearing offered similar support for mobile and wireless healthcare.

"Healthcare based on mobile health, remote monitors, electronic medical records, social networking sites, video conferencing and Internet-based record keeping can make a positive difference for many people," offered Darrell M. West, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. "We should encourage email reminders to take medicine, mechanisms to rate experiences with doctors and hospitals, and websites that make care ratings publicly available to other patients."

Rick Cnossen, president and chairman of Continua Health Alliance, added, "To realize the quality improvement and cost-containment goals of healthcare reform, our nation must harness the benefits of technologies that allow patients and care providers to use real-world, remotely collected data to make decisions about their health on a continual basis, rather than waiting until a condition has set in that requires them to schedule an urgent office visit or go to the emergency room."

A day after the hearing unfolded, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans to build out wireless infrastructure in hundreds of facilities. The VA will construct dedicated Wi-Fi networks throughout 153 hospitals, 134 nursing homes and 50 residential rehabilitation centers nationwide to provide Internet access to patients and their families without disrupting wireless networks that support medical care, NextGov reports. 

For further details:
- see this Healthcare IT News story about the hearing
- read West's testimony
- here's what NextGov had to say about the VA Wi-Fi plan