Round-up: Reactions to the mHealth Summit

By Brian Dolan

Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsThe mHealth Summit 2010, which took place in Washington DC last week, found coverage in a number of trade and business publications and blogs. Here's a round-up of some of the more interesting commentary to come out of the event where more than 2,400 attendees convened:

Wireless health care: M-powered - The Economist: "No doubt a dose of scepticism is warranted about m-health. But given the growing evidence of its usefulness and the new business models from emerging markets, there is reason for hope too. As Mr Gates pointed out this week, 'Middle-income countries are where most innovation in health care is going to come from.'" The Economist

Mobile phones become tools of health promotion - The Washington Post: "But the optimism was tempered by the acknowledgment that there are hurdles to be overcome. The wide variety of mobile devices, operating systems and network speeds creates complexity. The business models have yet to fully take shape as to who pays for services and who profits. And with a field as regulated as health and human services, a need to establish standards still exists." WashPo

Cell Phone Science - Bill Gates - The Gates Notes: "Peter Lillehoj and Chih-Ming Ho of the University of California, Los Angeles, received a grant to develop a disposable malaria biosensor based on a SIM card platform. The SIM card-biosensor will allow malaria detection to be performed using a cell-phone, which will make diagnostic testing more widely available in rural and remote areas. Terry Ferrari of World Vision will be field testing the use of two cell phone modules that will help community health workers in Mozambique caring for pregnant women and newborns to assess, to take action, and to refer cases with complications and emergencies. Another mobile-phone based tool being developed by Marc Mitchell of D-Tree International uses clinical algorithms to quickly identify women at risk during labor and delivery and assist with emergency transfer to a hospital. If these tools are successful, they could significantly reduce maternal and infant mortality rates." The Gates Notes

From the mHealth Summit 2010 - HIStalk Mobile: "The last three days have shown clearly that this is a fast-moving, fragmented industry which, depending on your perspective, is either on the brink of a tipping point or bubble burst. The difficulty in putting mHealth into one of these buckets is that mHealth is so many different things, to so many different people, in so many different place and health systems. The talk this week has included such far-reaching subjects as mobile money, decision support, integrated health information systems, SMS for patients and providers, data security and integrity, remote monitoring, business models, open source, wellness programs, and clinical trials." HIStalk Mobile

Seizing the mHealth Moment - David Aylward - Reuters AlertNet: "The summit comes at a pivotal historical moment. The decreasing cost and increasing power of mobile phones mean barriers to accessing information and communication technologies are crashing down. There are already more mobile phone users in the developing world than in the developed world, and that number is growing very fast." Reuters

mHealth, is it a market? - John Moore - Chilmark Research: "It is time to roll-up our sleeves and just get to work. But do not leave leadership at the door. As Dr. Frenk pointed out at the end of his talk, strong leadership is needed to insure that mHealth reaches its true potential as it will be a disruptor. And with disruption, opportunity blooms." Chilmark Research

My top take-aways from the mHealth Summit 2010 - Jon Camfield: "The conference had some great highlights too. Open source and open standards were popular topics and mentioned multiple times on stage and off. Social entrepreneurship bubbled up over and over again throughout the conference, with many shout-outs to Ashoka, buzz around eHealthPoints, and many Ashoka and Changemakers "family" being around and visible. The people at the conference were all the right people, though many implementers seemed trapped in the exhibit hall instead of giving presentations... Overall, I found the mHealth summit to be a weird mix of techno-positivism and fear of failing, which creates an infinite-pilot-project vortex." Jon Camfield