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Digital Meets Health

December 14th, 2011
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Last week I attended the 3rd annual mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. Organized by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), this multi-track conference attracted some 3,600 attendees and included representatives from across the health innovation spectrum, including industry, investors, entrepreneurs, policy makers, standards, NGOs, mobile operators, wireless technology producers, healthcare systems, insurers, pharma, regulators, researchers, and a multitude of others with an interest in the burgeoning space of ‘mHealth.’
While the lexicon for mHealth (an amalgam of “mobile” and “health”) is diverse and overlapping, a natural theme emerges if we look at the genesis of the term. The PC and ever-smaller, more powerful computer microprocessors spawned the digital revolution. Recently, we’ve seen the mobile revolution taking hold, wherein digital tools and wireless technologies have converged to allow us to be connected consumers, patients, and professionals. Now we are seeing a digital health revolution, wherein mobile, and the connectivity it provides for us, is enabling a new paradigm for health. Moreover, this phenomenon is spreading throughout the entire life sciences and health care ecosystem, including all strategics. To characterize all of this as simply being a combination of mobile and health is not only ambiguous (the term “mobile” has often been used interchangeably to mean a cell phone or mobility), but is somewhat disingenuous to the fundamentals that are driving this paradigm shift. Of course, mHealth is a very catchy and accessible term – and proponents have steadily broadened its meaning – so it’s often easier to make a concession in many modes of communication rather than fight a good-natured but losing battle!
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