While others look back, mobile looks to the future

As the year winds to a close, other publications are taking a look back at 2009. We'll be doing that in FierceHealthIT next Monday, but mobile healthcare technology is different. It's more consumer-focused than many other healthcare technologies. Plus, in many regards, it's more cutting-edge than typical health IT. Thus, we look forward to 2010.

The new year in mobile healthcare gets off to a rousing start just the second week of January when, for the first time ever, the huge International CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas will feature a Digital Health Summit and related "tech zone." We've actually been getting pitches for several weeks now from mobile healthcare vendors that will be exhibiting there, including from Intamac and D-Link, companies mentioned in this week's "Also Noted" section of FierceMobileHealthcare.

I'd be remiss at this point if I didn't give props to veteran business and marketing journalist Dana Blankenhorn, who blogged about CES and mobile healthcare ("Mobile will be the big health IT buzzword of 2010") at SmartPlanet on Monday. He notes that the Digital Health Summit, organized by the Continua Health Alliance, will feature all kinds of wireless home monitors and, significantly, systems that provide two-way interoperability with electronic health records, as well as--if the public ever accepts them--personal health records.

I've been a skeptic of PHRs for some time, but I believe they can and will take off once health IT systems can automatically populate them with real, actionable clinical data. Patients generally won't take the time to enter their own information--and if they do, physicians likely won't trust the accuracy or take the time to fit the PHRs into their workflow. And good luck getting doctors to accept payer-supplied PHRs built from claims data, for the same reasons: trust and workflow. But if the data were to come directly from a home monitor and then automatically populate a patient's EHR, well, then we might be on to something.

This kind of technology represents a breakthrough in preventive care. It might even have headed off the fatal heart attack of a favorite professor that initially got Blankenhorn interested in the field of home monitoring. - Neil