Luncheon keynotes bring messages of hope to summit attendees

By Mike Moran, Project Editor
No one who attended Tuesday's Keynote Luncheon can accuse Federal Communication Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski of not thinking big when it comes to expanding broadband access.

The FCC's mission, he told the crowd, is to "ensure that all in the United States have ubiquitous access to broadband." Specifically, the commission's intent is to craft policies that expand rural access to broadband and make sure that physicians and hospitals have access to the fastest broadband available, he said.

"Few technologies hold more promise for healthcare to reduce cost than broadband," he said. "Our path (at the FCC) is to get broadband to everyone in America by the end of the decade."

Genachowski was one of four keynote speakers at the luncheon. He was joined by Raj Shah, chairman and CEO of CTIS; Hamadoun Toure, secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union; and Rick Cnossen, Intel's Worldwide Health Information Technology Director.

If there was a common theme among the speakers, it's hope for the future – that mobile health will play a pivotal role in reducing healthcare costs, improving care and allowing patients to play a more active role in their own healthcare, allowing them to live healthier, more independent lives.

Cnossen said he's so confident of mHealth's promise that 50 percent of healthcare should be transitioned from facilities to the home, an undertaking he called the "brickless clinic."

"We have the technology. It's time we move out with it," he said.

The key, he said, is to develop a holistic solution. Don't get caught up in gadgets; pay more attention to creating efficient, integrated workflows; and better understand how people use technology, which includes making products more user-friendly.

"I share your passion for mHealth," Cnossen told the audience. "I want us to focus more on business and workflow than on technology. Let's remember to keep technology in its place as an important tool that helps improve the delivery of healthcare."

Shah addressed how mobile health can be used to help people with chronic diseases (100 million in the United States) live fuller, happier lives.

Mobile technology, he said, allows patients to communicate better with their healthcare providers, locate pharmacies and other important resources and interact with family and friends. It also gives them the confidence that their condition can be managed and that healthcare is accessible from anywhere.

"Health is really about living life," he said. "You want the disease to be your friend because you can't let it defeat you."

As someone who has diabetes, Shah added, "I know that I'm not going to get cured, but I'm going to live my life happily," and mobile health helps him do that.

While it's impossible to predict the future, Toure said, it is possible to identify trends for broadband and mobile health based on what we know.

For example, he said, mobile phones will increase personal access to health information, mHealth and broadband technology will improve data collection and disease surveillance, patient monitoring will improve and become more prevalent and remote consulting and diagnosis will be enhanced, thanks to low-cost devices.

"In the near future, more people will access the Internet through mobile devices than through fixed devices," he said. "We are witnessing the fastest change in human history, and I believe (we have) a great opportunity for social development."

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