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17 June 2011
The European Connected Health (ECH) Campus together with the European MHealth Alliance (EuMHA) organised ECHWeek2011 to discuss the evolving landscape of mobile health (or mHealth) technologies and the role of, and future possibilities for, this segment of eHealth innovations. The conference brought together patients, professionals and European Commission officials, but mainly offered an avenue for industry to develop partnerships to drive mHealth and further the uptake of current technologies for the benefit of patients.
The three-day event focused on the transformative capabilities of mHealth solutions for all health stakeholders particularly with regards to the patient-centric nature of mHealth technologies. Chris Taylor, Director of the Manchester mHealth Innovation Centre, suggested that mHealth is not an incremental extension of eHealth, but instead is a "personalised, commoditised solution that can be used in real-time, anywhere." He believes that the future for mHealth will include the integration of home and environment where solutions are personalised, standardised and persistent – "aware of me, my story and my need for key interventions" – providing not just cost-effectiveness, but better care for individuals.
Jaakko Aarnio, Policy Officer, DG INFSO – ICT for health, gave greater details about how the European Commission is engaging in mHealth to support research, deployment and regulation of a sector that is beyond the reach of medical device legislation. He asserted that the Commission is in the process of negotiating a Roadmap for mHealth in order to tackle issues of sustainability. Head of Unit in DG -ICT for health, Ilias Iakovidis, further discussed the need for more data regarding the mHealth market so as to take the many pilot initiatives that exist and scale them up for real data collection and access for patients. He offered that industry must work with professionals for mHealth to be successful.
Overall, the conference highlighted the many innovative solutions in development which will allow for greater patient empowerment and personalised health management. Though many barriers still exist for these solutions to become a reality for the everyday citizen, there is great potential for tackling the existing challenges faced by health systems throughout Europe to provide quality health care to all individuals.