Will President Obama mention mHealth in his SOTU address?

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 12, 2013        

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Peter Hudson, CEO, iTriageFirst Lady Michelle Obama personally invited Dr. Peter Hudson, the co-founder and CEO of iTriage, to sit in her viewing box as “a distinguished guest” for President Obama’s State of the Union Address tonight.

Aetna acquired iTriage for an undisclosed sum in 2011. The iTriage app aims to help its users determine what medical condition they might have and where they might choose to go for treatment. More recently the app gave its users the ability to book appointments with select doctors right from their mobile device.

In an email to MobiHealthNews, Hudson said that he will be seated with Ms. Obama, Dr. Biden, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. “President and First Lady Obama included iTriage in the esteemed list of guests to underscore the importance of the seven priorities outlined in his inaugural address, including innovation, reducing debt and job creation,” Hudson wrote.

While Hudson did not provide any indication that iTriage or Aetna would be specifically mentioned in the president’s speech tonight, it would not be the first time that the White House honored iTriage.

In August 2012 the White House launched a new program, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which paired the private sector, academia, and non-profits with people from the government to work on innovation projects. One of those projects is The Open Data Initiative, which former HHS CTO Todd Park helped launched during his tenure at HHS. Since he succeeded Aneesh Chopra as CTO of the federal government last year, he aims to bring Open Data Initiatives to other sectors as well.

At that event last August, to illustrate the success of ODI, Park pointed to Hudson and iTriage, which makes use of some freely available government data sets to offer its symptom navigator and care facility locator service. Park said his goal was to “clone” Hudson and iTriage.

“So, what’s the play?” Park said at the time. “What is the Open Data Initiative’s play exactly? Clone Pete Hudson. That is the play. Clone this story. And, very specifically, clone the actual use of the data — the application of the data by American entrepreneurs and innovators — to create real benefit in people’s lives. Help people to find the right doctor that could save their life.”

Will President Obama mention mobile health tonight? He has done it before — his 2011 SOTU mention mobile video consultations. There seems to be a very good chance that he will again tonight. We’ll update if and when he does. (UPDATE: No mention of iTriage or mHealth during the SOTU. President Obama did give a nod to the only other businessman invited as a distinguished guest: Apple CEO Tim Cook. Hudson was visible for a few seconds when the First Lady first entered the her viewing box — watch the CBS News footage and look for Hudson here.)