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HMT Exclusive The future of mobile healthcare World Congress conference spotlights mobile health strategies. T

he World Congress Third Annual Leadership Summit on mHealth convened in Boston last month, bringing together more than 100 healthcare ex- perts who are helping to develop the best practices and strategies for integrating mobile health solutions into their organi- zations and the healthcare industry. Topics at the summit ranged from the use of consumer-focused mobile apps that encourage healthy lifestyle choices to how mobile healthcare may play a role in meaningful-use compliance. “When companies are developing their mobile strategy, they’re really looking at personalizing mobile to not just drive consumer engagement but also sustain it,” said Sherri Dorfmann, CEO of Stepping Stone Partners.

Consumers continue to develop their engagement with mobile phones, a theme repeated at the conference. Dorfmann highlighted how different demographic groups utilize the technol- ogy. Studies show that 87 percent of minorities living in the United States (African-Americans and Hispanics) use mobile phones and 75 percent of all teens have a mobile phone, with more than half regularly texting. The heavy saturation has brought new possibilities for the integration of healthcare ap- plications.

Many large companies have either embraced healthcare technology as a means of effectively connecting with consumers or are investigating the advantages and limitations of the tech- nology. Raja Rajamanner, a senior VP at Humana, addressed how his company’s suite of mobile games is being used to combat obesity, age-related physical and mental decline, while providing entertaining physical therapy. Rajaman- ner also explored how to drive change and improvement in healthcare costs,

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effectiveness and quality outcomes with member mobile services, such as Web, text messaging and smartphone apps. While much of the conference fo- cused on the potential benefi ts of mobile health deployments, discussion also in- cluded an examination of the limitations of m-health.

“I think the answer to simplifying mobile is as a complement, and asking what really works and what really doesn’t work, is really the key to where mobile fi ts into patient care and at the point of care,” said Jennifer Dyer, M.D., founder of Endogoddess, a mobile health-related media and consulting company.

Dyer specializes in pediatric care and is active in the medical social net- working world, including blogging and maintaining a YouTube channel. She has developed mobile innovations, including a personalized, automated iPhone app for texting teens with diabetes. Dyer has taken a particular interest in the treatment and prevention of diabetes, a disease that will affect half of Americans by 2020. “Asking a patient what really isn’t working and acknowledging the impor- tance of a solid doctor/patient relation- ship is what’s key for mobile to work at the point of care,” she said.

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