Wednesday, June 20, 2012

FCC Hosts mHealth Summit

FCC Chairman Genachowski on June 6th hosted a discussion with private, academic, and government leaders in wireless health technology to discuss the promise of mobile communications devices, such as smartphones to improve healthcare and lower costs.

The Chairman was joined by senior executives and leaders from companies at the forefront of the mHealth revolution that included Philips, Qualcomm, Verizon and Medtronic, startups such as MedApps, Telcare, TheCarrot, and WellDoc. He was also joined by non-profits including the West Wireless Health Institute, Alfred Mann Foundation, hospital leaders, and government experts from the FCC, FDA, HHS, VA, CMS, and NIH.

In a new development at the roundtable discussion, the Chairman announced plans to act on an FCC Office of Engineering and Technology proposal to increase innovation in wireless device development by reducing regulatory barriers to testing and evaluating new technologies.

In the coming months, there are plans to move to create more flexibility so that there can be more experimental uses of spectrum for wireless healthcare devices. New, streamlined experimental licensing processes will also be created for universities and non-profits.

The proposal is to create a research license that cuts the red tape to testing new wireless medical devices in coordination with FDA to get new technologies to market. Additionally, the FCC proposes to create an innovation zone license to allow pre-approved spectrum use experimentation in specified locations.

A sample of recent innovations developed by some of the Summit participants:

  • “TheCarrot” is a web and mobile platform for health management and care coordination to allow patients to create a plan, share the plan, and record information on the go
  • MedApps has developed wireless sensors that transmit data on a patient’s health indicators to a central database in the cloud called HealthAir
  • Medtronic has developed an integrated glucose monitor to track blood sugar levels every five minutes and then an infusion pump receives the  data and adjusts insulin levels accordingly
  • Philips has produced clinical decision support tools that interpret raw patient data and then converts the information to actionable information for physicians
  • Qualcomm and their 2net, a cloud based system is designed to universally be interoperable with various medical devices and applications, enabling wireless connectivity while allowing device users and physicians to access patient data
  • Telcare has a smartphone app that automatically receives blood glucose data and creates personalized reports to share with physicians and family members
  • WellDoc has a Patient Coach that provides feedback to patients to help manage their diabetes.