Mobile Future

Sebelius Opens mHealth Summit, Notes

The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mHealth Summit opened today with a keynote address by Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Speaking to an audience of policymakers, government and health care industry leaders, and technology enthusiasts, Sebelius lauded the “enormous promise” of mobile technology, calling it a “key piece of puzzle for improving global health.”
Sebelius’ optimism about the potential for mHealth to advance reform efforts and improve health outcomes was evident. “Mobile technology has the potential to propel health care into the future,” she stated.
In discussing the national health care reform debate, Sebelius expressed confidence that “we’ll have a bill on the President’s desk this year.” She also noted that, “the real wok starts once the legislation is signed into law…and one important piece of that work is the mobile technology we’re talking about today.”
The HHS Secretary sees great promise in using mobile devices as health communications and diagnostic tools. “Some people don’t go to websites or watch TV, but their phone is with them all the time,” said Sebelius.
In providing examples of physicians and health care groups currently leveraging the mobile platform to improve patient care, Sebelius described how a doctor in Texas sends text messages to remind patients about care regimens and appointments. She also praised a Florida health care group for using text messaging to provide patients with information about emergency rooms’ locations wait times. Sebelius also said that the federal government is working on a several wireless health projects, including text messaging programs for HIV testing information, H1N1 updates, and prenatal and infant wellness.
Sebelius hopes the mobile platform will be an asset this flu season and noted that HHS is encouraging patients to use mobile devices to research symptoms and communicate with their doctors.
“Mobile has huge advantages, including the fact that more than ninety percent of Americans have a mobile phone,” said the busy Secretary. “Unfortunately, I have two.”