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Chairman Genachowski, FCC MHealth Summit

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Released: June 6, 2012
PREPARED REMARKS FCC CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI
FCC MHEALTH SUMMIT
WASHINGTON, D.C.
JUNE 6, 2012
Good morning, and welcome to the FCC’s mHealth Summit.
The good news is that we’ve assembled an outstanding lineup of participants – from physicians
to entrepreneurs to government leaders. The bad news is that there are too many for me to
acknowledge everybody who deserves recognition.
But I have to recognize the outstanding leadership of Secretary Sebelius at HHS, Peggy
Hamburg from FDA, and also cross-governmental collaboration led by NIH related to public
private partnerships, with participation from FDA, the Department of Veterans Affairs, HHS,
and CMS.
Thank you to all of today’s participants for taking part in what I’m confident will be a productive
discussion on how government and private innovators can work together to improve the quality
of care and lower costs.
I’d also like to acknowledge the hard work of my staff who organized this event: Josh
Gottheimer, Julie Knapp, Jordan Usdan, Maya Uppaluru, Kevin Almasy, Roger Goldblatt,
Sherille Ismail, and Keyla Hernandez.
I thought I would set up today’s summit by answering a question.
Why have we gathered some of the nation’s leading mHealth experts at the FCC?
We’re hosting this event at the FCC, because the FCC is the nation’s expert agency on
communications technology – and innovation at the intersection of communications technology
and health care is essential to the quality of care for all Americans.
High-speed Internet, wired and wireless, is helping doctors and scientists do their jobs better and
faster. It’s giving consumers access to better information, tools and technologies. It is
transforming our health care system.
Today, a “smart” pill box can send automatic reminders to a patient to take her daily medication,
and alert her physician or family members if she skips it. New mobile diabetes management
devices are freeing patients from the burden of logging their glucose measurements and making
remote monitoring a seamless process.
Since I became Chairman, the FCC has been working to harness the power of communications
technology to improve the quality of health care, lower costs, and save lives.
In 2009, we began developing our country’s first National Broadband Plan, which identified
health care as an area of enormous promise for broadband-enabled innovation.
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The plan included many recommendations, which we have been working to implement.
As recommended by the Broadband Plan, we entered into an unprecedented partnership with the
Food and Drug Administration to help ensure that communications-related medical innovations
can swiftly and safely be brought to market. As part of this agreement, the FCC has coordinated
with the FDA on a number of actions.
In November 2010, we opened a proceeding to examine ways to promote innovative and
efficient spectrum use for wireless healthcare devices.
Today, I’m announcing that, in the coming months, the FCC will act on our proposal to create
new experimental liscenses for medical and other research. This will reduce regulatory barriers,
cut red tape, and speed the process of getting new technologies into the marketplace.
New, streamlined experimental licensing processes will also be created for universities and non-
profit research organizations.
We’re moving forward on other fronts.
Last November, the Commission dedicated spectrum for Medical Micropower Networks, which
have the potential - literally - to enable paraplegics to stand.
Just weeks ago, we adopted new rules to allow greater use of spectrum for Medical Body Area
Network, or MBAN, devices. MBANs provide a cost-effective way to monitor patients
wirelessly, providing more information to physicians and giving patients mobility and greater
independence.
That brings me to the second question, why have we gathered you here today.
Wireless is a horizontal technology, disrupting many industries from education, to health care, to
energy. We at the FCC help promote innovation in wireless across these various industry
verticals.
We’ve found it helpful to bring together private sector and government leaders across various
verticals to discuss the challenges and opportunities of wireless technology. In particular, the
wireless health care vertical is exploding with activity and innovation—it’s an exciting time for
health technology.
However, we know there are barriers to harnessing this technology for the greater good—
interoperability, reliability, connectivity, privacy, and security, just to name a few. Today, we’d
like to hear from you on these and other barriers to rapid deployment and find ways to
collaborate to help accelerate innovation in this sector.
Former NIH Director and White House policy advisor Zeke Emanuel, in a New York Times op-
ed from last week made the point that we can only solve our country’s health care challenges
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through innovation – but we shouldn’t let ourselves be distracted by the pursuit of pseudo-
innovations.
He said, quote, “We need to stop glorifying every new technology as an innovation.
‘New’ only matters when it’s proved better than what we had before, when it prolongs survival,
reduces side effects or improves quality of life – or maintains the current standard of care at a
lower cost.”
Improving the quality of care. Lowering costs. Saving lives. Those should be the overarching
goals of mHealth innovation and today’s discussion.
We need to ensure that new technologies are truly making a difference in people’s lives and
transforming our health care system.
We need to go beyond the promise and potential, and emphasize rigorous evaluation and
evidence-based innovations.
For example, MBAN monitoring may not sound that revolutionary to some. But the odds of
surviving a cardiac arrest are twice as high for monitored hospital patients, compared to
unmonitored patients.
At the same time, by decreasing infections, this technology can save an average of up to $12,000
per patient. Economist Robert Litan estimates that remote monitoring technologies could save as
much as $197 billion over the next 25 years in the United States, due to better management of
chronic disease.
Among the elderly alone, mHealth can reduce costs by 25 percent, by reducing the number of
face-to-face consultations needed.
These are the types of practical results we need, and we want to hear from you today about what
more the FCC and our federal partners can be doing to enable mHealth solutions.
At the end of today’s discussion,we’re going to have a speed round on what is the one thing we
could work on together to really change the mHealth landscape. Because of this, we are not
going to do introductions, but I know you have a seating chart and bios in front of you. We’ll
save that time to go around the table at the end.
I want to make sure today is just the beginning of our work together. This is an important day,
but its equally important that it not end here.
Specifically, I’m going to ask that you deliver a short list of concrete suggestions of what must
happen to accelerate the adoption of mHealth technology.
I’d like this group to become an operating group that will move this forward, and help the
country seize the opportunities of wireless health technologies that can save lives and lower
costs.
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I’ve asked Robert Jarrin at Qualcomm, Doug Trauner at TheCarrot, and Dr. Julian Goldman at
CIMIT to help develop next steps, and I want to thank them in advance for taking this on.
Thank you again for coming. Working together, we can build on our progress and seize the
opportunities of digital medicine to improve the quality of care and lower costs.
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