Exploring Human Potential

The Hype and The Hope of “mHealth”

Posted on | August 27, 2010 | 1 Comment

Eric Dishman

Another day, another flyer arrives for a seminar on “mHealth.” One that showed up in my mailbox this week is typical: high-gloss images of mobile phones and heart signals, celebratory claims about how all of this will “revolutionize” healthcare, and liberal use of the words “innovation” and “transformation” in almost every keynote title. I bet I could circle the globe going to all of these mHealth events if I would let myself. Then there are the numerous press articles starting to beat the drum about mHealth. Concepts like “home health” and “wireless” and “smart phone” and “telehealth” are being bandied about as if they are all the same thing, under the rubric of “mHealth,” without much distinction between these very different capabilities, value propositions, and markets. Methinks we doth proclaim too much!

I have no doubt that we are living in a world in which personal technologies–from PCs to smart phones to game machines to wearable and eventually even implantable sensors–will become increasingly important for capturing healthcare data, prompting us to adhere to care plans, and connecting us with providers and each other in some powerful new ways for collaborative care. I have done, sponsored, and funded R&D at Intel in wireless technologies, sensor networks, mobile applications, and home-based services for healthcare. And I believe that consumer empowerment tools are a disruptive and important part of healthcare reform globally. However, this well-intentioned but premature celebration of all things “mHealth” may come back to bite us, if we’re not more careful. Here are some of my concerns: (CONTINUE….)


One Response to “The Hype and The Hope of “mHealth””

  1. Mike Magee
    August 27th, 2010 @ 11:24 am


    Thanks for these important insights. Indeed the definitions are all over the map. To me this reflects a lack of basic understanding and agreement on what we are trying to build in a future Health Care System that focuses on prevention and customized/personalized strategic health planning. Absent an agreed upon endpoint, it’s not surprising that technologic enablers are “all over the map”. One other thought – the issue of generational conflicts (technology for young vs. old) – eHealth at the very least should aim to increase efficiency and effectiveness of care. One critical element is connectivity of the multi-generational family, with learnings moving down the generational divide and caring moving up that ladder. Once again, this expectation (that technology properly and strategically applied could help advantage family human and social capital) has been poorly defined. Under these circumstances, you can’t hit the mark because no one has ever laid out the original target. That’s why I agree with you. Let’s put down the brushes for a moment and agree on the masterpiece we are attempting to paint.


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