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What I Learned Day One at the mHealth Summit #mhs12

I only had time to attend one day of the mHealth Summit in DC. Overall, it seemed like a well attended event with a good vendor area.

But, what I saw left me with concerns about the maturity of the space.

1. Every vendor has their own portal. There was no idea of convergence or sensitivity to the care manager or provider or patient having to access multiple sites to collect data. Of course, there were a few exceptions.

2. There’s still some heavy lifting for the consumer, but it’s getting better. For example, one food application lets you scan in your food but that calorie counter isn’t integrated into any activity monitor. Another application was trying to monitor social activity for part of their depression algorithm but they weren’t leveraging the data sitting on the phone itself – numbers of calls, movement, etc.

3. There are some really creative solutions being tried but the scale of the studies is small. I was excited to see what was being done with obesity, but the case studies were less than 150 participants.

4. There are a lot of non-healthcare people jumping in which is great from an innovation perspective, but healthcare is tricky and making sure to apply consumer literacy filters to the clinical guidance you get is important. For example, I asked one vendor why he had several chronic diseases covered but ignored high cholesterol. He pointed out that he had a heart disease component, but IMHO I don’t know many people with high cholesterol that would self select into heart disease.

On the other hand, there were some really positive things.

1. The user interface on a lot of these is very elegant.

2. The devices are getting smaller and smaller with a few disposables on the way.

3. The data captured and reporting is really interesting and insightful although I’m not sure how it will all be used by patients, physicians, or companies.

4. Technology is much more scalable than people centric strategies which is critical in the US and globally.

5. Several companies really get it and are focused on device neutral approaches for capturing and disseminating data.

Overall, it reminded me of some of my concerns about the Health 2.0 movement a few years ago in terms of business models and distribution models. But, keep the innovation coming. It’s fascinating and thought provoking. But, there will definitely be a shakeout in the years to come.

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