The mHealth road map, as drawn by the FCC (US)

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a/k/a the Lord of the Frequencies, released its task force report on mHealth last September. This recent two-part article from e-Commerce Times is written primarily from the wireless, not healthcare, perspective, but goes into considerable depth on the task force recommendations which were not extensively written about earlier. This longer exposition confirms some earlier trends your editors have been noting for months [TA 27 Sep]:

  • the tug-of-war going on between FDA and FCC on product approval, mainly in the product testing area (see ‘test beds’)
  • a certain lack of coordination on mHealth issues with two other Federal healthcare entities, Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The latter is a major user of mHealth. Not stated in the article but in Editor Donna’s estimation, HHS involvement in mHealth is as part of consumer engagement in care models such as PCMH (patient-centered medical homes in primary care) and ACO (accountable care organizations, which organize continuity of care across health providers)

As we noted in September, HIMTA–the Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act–has been proposed in the House, though not yet passed (and may not be in the lame duck Congress). This would create an FDA Office of Mobile Health, another point of overlap.

What would be revolutionary–and will never happen–is a joint Office of Mobile Health that would be a single point of contact for developers, rather than making them run two or more gauntlets. This would facilitate device approvals, obtain technical support where needed (e.g. spectrum) and speed contacts with multiple agencies. But the likelihood of this happening is close to nil, so mHealth developers should ready themselves for even more complexity. FCC draws mHealth road map (eCommerceTimes): Part 1, Part 2 Related story from Connected World: Securing and engaging in mobile health