In a move he says will improve the quality of health care and cut health system costs, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the Commission will work toward implementing recommendations proposed by the mHealth Task Force, a consortium of wireless healthcare technology experts created by the FCC to facilitate broader adoption of mobile health (mHealth) technologies. Chairman Genachowski said the FCC will take the following actions based on the mHealth Task Force Report: work with industry and federal partners to achieve the Task Force’s goal that mHealth become a medical best practice by 2017; renew the FCC’s search for a Health Care Director; develop outreach programs for industry stakeholders; work with international counterparts to make spectrum available for wireless medical technologies and harmonize international mHealth spectrum; consider action that would streamline the rules governing the use of experimental wireless health care devices; and consider rules to reform and modernize the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program.
What is mHealth Technology?
According to the mHealth Task Force, mHealth encompasses the electronic exchange of data, images and video that aid in the practice of medicine as well as the use of mobile networks, devices and applications to support those practices. Examples of new wireless technologies in the medical field include Medical Body Area Network (MBAN) sensors that allow doctors to remotely monitor patients’ vital signs, mobile diagnostic imaging applications that give physicians digital access to medical images, medical implant devices that help restore sensation and mobility to paralyzed limbs, and general health software applications that allow patients to upload and download their health information at any time. In addition to these technologies, the use of electronic health records and broadband-enabled infrastructures will allow healthcare providers to digitally share patient health information with other providers. A Brookings Institution analysis found that real-time care via remote monitoring technologies could save as much as $197 billion in healthcare costs over the next 25 years.
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