CTIA-The Wireless Association® believes mobile health (mHealth) technologies and applications have vast potential to improve the delivery of healthcare in America and around the world by strengthening personalized care for patients, lowering costs and reducing errors and removing geographic and economic disparities. Rapid growth and innovation in advanced broadband infrastructure, products and services are making possible a steady stream of new health IT applications, especially in the wireless delivery of services. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as well as the healthcare and wireless industries, recognize that mobile broadband is already delivering on the mHealth promise to Americans, regardless of their location or economic or health status.
The key to ensuring the pace of mHealth innovation continues is to support policies that promote continued deployment of wireless health applications by allocating additional spectrum for U.S. mobile wireless market use, and on the policy side, keeping this “virtuous cycle” going by retaining carriers’ ability to manage their networks and using a technologically neutral approach to enable universal service in remote and rural areas.
- The Potential for mHealth Is Recognized by the Majority of Americans and Their Physicians. Numerous studies and surveys reveal that Americans support the concept of mHealth and want to see it more broadly applied. In a national study by CTIA and Harris Interactive® that was released in October 2009, almost eight in 10 Americans (78%) were interested in mHealth, and more than one in 10 (15%) said they were extremely interested/very interested in learning more about it – so much so that one in five (19%) would upgrade their wireless plans to participate. Similarly, physicians said more than one quarter of their patients would benefit from such services, and 80% of doctors and 89% of specialists want to see continued investment in mHealth.
- mHealth Solutions Already Help Improve Care for Patients, and Can Do Much More. 89% of Americans with wireless Internet connectivity sought health information online in 2009. As more consumers turn to web-enabled mobile phones, smart phones and wireless-enabled personal digital assistants (PDAs), more and more consumer-friendly healthcare applications (“apps”) are being introduced. Today, consumers can choose applications that can check possible interactions among prescription drugs, schedule pill reminders or record daily health activities. Experts estimate that if the 45% of Americans who suffer from such chronic conditions as diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were monitored remotely via mobile wireless applications, the cost savings to the U.S. healthcare system from reduced ER visits, hospitalizations and nursing home stays would top more than $21 billion per year of the $1.4 trillion we spend treating chronic diseases. A good example of the potential of mHealth solutions is the innovative text4babyprogram, which texts healthcare tips every week to pregnant women and new moms. While all expectant mothers and new moms may benefit from the text messages, text4baby is focused on reaching and engaging those populations who are statistically more at-risk to experience traumatic births, by promoting healthy behavior through mobile technology. A program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB), text4baby is the largest free national health initiative to date and is made possible through a public-private partnership that boasts more than 350 organizations, CTIA-The Wireless Foundation as one of the program’s founding partners.
- New mHealth Solutions Are Being Adopted Increasingly by Hospitals and Physicians. While hospitals in the past have limited mobile device use in their buildings, administrators today are embracing the benefits of a fully wireless environment. By deploying multiple wireless networks to facilitate communications and real-time delivery of vital medical testing data and telemetry, physicians and specialists are increasingly using wireless applications (apps) and devices to connect them with their patients. For example, there are applications that turn any web-enabled phone into an interactive diabetes monitoring and management device, and wireless-enabled pillboxes that are being used in a pilot program for patients with chronic kidney disease. There are systems that link a patient’s home with the pharmacy and prescribing physician, and even a medication dispensing unit that can be installed in a patient’s home and enabled wirelessly by the prescribing physician using a secure two-way connection.
- MHealth Solutions Already Provide Cost-Effective, Lifesaving Connections between Off-Site and Home Health Care. The connection between primary caregivers and outside health specialists is also enhanced by new wireless devices and mHealth solutions. Today, there are services that connect cardiac telemetry capabilities to remotely monitor thousands of patients with life-threatening chronic heart conditions; and other services that dispatch and route home health care and hospice personnel to patients in the greatest need in real time. The California Health Care Foundation reported in 2009 that the use of remote monitoring devices in patients’ homes, coupled with follow-up phone contact, can lower cost of delivery while maintaining quality of care. Given the value that healthcare organizations are seeing from these monitoring services, experts predict that M2M device shipments might exceed 430 million units by 2013, many of which will be used in health care.
- Growing Pace of mHealth Innovation Requires Recognition of the “Virtuous Cycle.” CTIA and the wireless industry advocate for making more spectrum available and supporting policies designed to maintain the “virtuous cycle” of innovation and investment that characterizes the wireless ecosystem. This cycle sustains the rapid growth and adoption of mHealth solutions across the public and private spectrum of the U.S. healthcare system. It goes like this: as spectrum is made available, providers invest and innovate with more advanced networks and infrastructure. These advancements in turn lead to innovations in devices and services. This leads to more wireless applications and content that, in turn, leads to more demand for services. In order to preserve this advantageous market environment, policies must also preserve carriers’ ability to manage their networks and take a technology-neutral approach to achieving universal service for rural areas for healthcare delivery. In this way, industry can continue introducing mHealth solutions that will facilitate better healthcare for all Americans, regardless of their locations, economic or health circumstances.
Last Updated: November 2010