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Keynote speakers predict mobile phones will play a major role in healthcare

By Diana Manos, Senior Editor
At the close of last week's third annual mHealth Summit, keynote speakers highlighted the vast impact mobile phones and other mobile devices are having – and will continue to have – on healthcare delivery not just in the United States, but worldwide.

Paul Jacobs, chairman of the board and CEO of Qualcomm, said "it isn't any hype" to call the wireless system one of humanity's greatest achievements. More than 5.6 billion people are using cellphones, he said, and the smartphone has outpaced computers.

"Really, computing has moved to mobile," he said.

Jacobs predicted 4 billion smart phones will be sold between now and 2014, half of which will go into markets where there hasn't been connectivity before. On the 3G level, he said, the world will see "tremendous growth," and the connection will expand to doctors as well.

"The mobile device in your hand gives you access to all of humanity's collective knowledge," he added. "We're going to see the full computer environment coming over. Over the next year, really cool stuff is coming."

Jacobs predicted mobile devices will play a significant role in managing chronic diseases,
helping people to remain well longer. By 2020, 160 million Americans will be treated remotely, he said. Clinical data supports the effectiveness of wireless health solutions, some of which may be located inside the human body in the not-so-distant future.

Qualcomm has invested $100 million to accelerate wireless health, Jacobs said.

"This is a really exciting industry," he said. "Over the next five to 10 years, you will be thinking of yourself connected to your doctor through your phone as you are to your family and friends now.  It's going to absolutely change the world and improve everybody's standard of living."

According to Sangita Reddy, executive director of operations for the Apollo Hospitals Group, one of Asia's largest healthcare groups, doctors' growing comfort with mobile health is key to the transformation of healthcare.

"It's a great beginning," she told attendees. "Thank you all for making this change happen."

Reimbursement is one of the most powerful motivators of change, Reddy said.

She recommended reimbursement for doctors who use mobile phones in caring for their patients and for coordinated care.

"We have to find a way to collaborate and not compete," she said. "We're delaying ourselves from the true fruit by arguing over these things."

Reddy said a time is soon coming when healthcare will be delivered 24/7 through the use of mobile devices "because the individual is ready to stay healthy." In addition, she said, patients will be given a choice between bricks and mortar care or mobile care.

Follow Diana Manos on Twitter @DManos_IT_News.

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