This week, the FCC made an announcement which, I think, is likely to have far-reaching implications, including for providers, hospitals, wireless vendors and medical device makers. *So* much is going on in this announcement that I think I’ll have to parcel it out into a series, so stay tuned.
But let’s start with the basics. In the announcement, the FCC said that it plans to implement on the key recommendations made by an independent mHealth task force.
Perhaps the most dramatic news is that the FCC seems ready to push for making mHealth “a routine medical best practice” by 2017. Despite doctors’ increasing reliance on mobile devices, that’s a tall order — or even a nearly impossible one depending on how comprehensive your definition of mHealth is. Regardless, this looks like a watershed moment.
The agency has already taken several steps that advance wireless healthcare networking, including:
* Medical Body Area Networks: The FCC recently released an order allocating spectrum for Medical Body Area Networks, networks of small sensors attached to a patient that continuously report results.
* Medical Micropower Networks: Last year, the FCC adopted rules enabling a next generation of wireless medical devices used to restore functioning to paralyzed limbs. The MMN is an ultra-low-power wideband network consisting of transmitters, which are implanted in the body to take the place of damaged nerves.
* FDA/FCC Partnership: Since 2010, the FCC has been working in partnership with the FDA to help bring communications-related medical devices quickly and safely to market.
But this is just the beginning, folks. As you’ll see over following installments, the FCC is taking on not only the broad policy goal of “mHealth by 2017” but taking several steps that should help to lay the groundwork to make this happen.
Are they enough? Let’s talk about it. I’ll get into what some of the proposals are, and how much impact they’re likely to have, in coming HospitalEMRandEHR.com articles. So don’t turn that channel!