The Latest Federal mHealth Initiatives

Back in October, I wrote an article about the Recommendations for Mobile Health IT Advancement, outlining the action items of the FCC’s initiatives to become more of a leader in advancing mobile health adoption. A few of the main initiatives include:

  • Filling the FCC Healthcare Director open position that would serve as the liaison with other federal agencies, including the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services).
  • Improve outreach activities to connect with healthcare organizations, including ‘non-traditional constituents’ such as nonprofits, research institutions and small companies that may not be familiar with industry regulations. There is emphasis on providing easy-to-find educational materials via the FCC’s website for the average consumer.
  • Which brings us to the recommendation that the FCC should publish a healthcare website – complete with links to other federal healthcare websites, mHealth policies, new projects and more. It should also serve as a clearinghouse for the public and industry.

Making good on their promises, the FCC mHealth Task Force (created to make these recommendations) has launched its healthcare website: http://www.fcc.gov/health. On this site, a section dedicated to developers has a list of FCC developer APIs and open source projects, as well as an invitation for feedback on what type of resources are needed in the developer community.

The FCC has recently posted their listing for a Director of Healthcare Initiatives, that “will lead the agency’s efforts in facilitating and promoting communications technologies and services that improve the quality of healthcare for all citizens and help reduce healthcare costs; facilitating the availability of medical devices that use spectrum; and ensuring hospitals and other healthcare facilities have required connectivity.”

As mHealth leadership develops on a federal level, I’m interested to see how the different healthcare agencies converge to support a unified message around balancing tech innovation and ensuring the security of digital patient health information. The overall theme to keeping data safe involves keeping the data off of the mobile device itself. If mobile application design can incorporate security features with this concept in mind, mobile healthcare can achieve the best of both worlds.

As I wrote about in Keep ePHI on Secure Networks, Not Mobile Devices, Recommends OCR, David S. Holtzman from the OCR recommends storing data on a secure network, not a mobile device. Instead of losing data when you lose your phone or laptop, the data should be stored in a HIPAA compliant data center with standardized network security in place. A HIPAA compliant data center can provide the infrastructure needed to protect data with appropriate technical, administrative and physical security controls.

Find out what a complete HIPAA compliant hosting solution entails by downloading our HIPAA Compliant Hosting white paper.

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