What Do mHealth Leaders Need Most From Our Government? Clarity.

My job and my life intersected in a profound way when my daughter was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Years working in mobile innovation didn’t prepare me for how personally relevant mHealth so quickly became. Her clinical trial at Stanford University, supported by the National Institutes of Health through Congress’ Special Diabetes Program, featured a world-class endocrinologist working alongside software coders, applications developers, algorithm writers, network engineers and other mobile innovators. They were all pushing together for what could be a revolution in diabetes management—the artificial pancreas.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk about my daughter’s experience and share my thoughts on how government can help encourage the next wave of mHealth innovation, when I was invited to testify before Congress on mobile innovation and health care.

America’s leadership in the mobile economy — 40,000 apps and counting in the broad mHealth category — matches America’s leadership at the cutting edge of medical technology.

Mobile devices, wireless networks and targeted applications are enabling better, more seamless and cost-effective care that empowers and informs stakeholders on both sides of the stethoscope.

The virtuous cycle of investment in the mobile ecosystem — from networks, to handsets and tablets, to applications — provides an unparalleled foundation for dramatic advances in the nation’s health and wellness. My message to Congress was to lean in and strike a reasonable and circumspect balance that both protects patient safety and privacy and propels the dramatic, mobile-fueled advances we are seeing through American medicine today.

What do mHealth innovators need most from government? Certainty.

· Clarity on where health-related regulations begin and end with regard to mobile devices.

· Easy-to-follow guidance that allows for timely and affordable approval processes.

· Bright lines about which agency has authority over what decisions, and

· Continual, meaningful progress to ensure adequate wireless spectrum capacity will be there to help ensure mobile devices are reliable for consumers and health providers alike.

As noted by my fellow panelist, Bradley Merrill Thompson of the mHealth Regulatory Coalition, “innovative developers are creating more sophisticated products, and the regulatory framework will need to be flexible in order to leave room for future developments.”

We all have ample incentive to get the balance right. Longevity predictions for children born today are reaching 150 years of age—due in no small part tomHealth innovation. This is not about government stepping away, but rather stepping up and delivering a predictable and constructive framework that can unleash incredible progress. If done thoughtfully, the best is yet to come in terms of the health of our nation.

Jonathan Spalter is chairman of Mobile Future, a coalition of technology firms, communications companies and non-profit groups, including those in the mHealth space, working to support mobile investment and innovation.

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