FCC TO ACT ON KEY mHEALTH TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS TO SPUR ADOPTION OF
WIRELESS HEALTH TECHNOLOGY
FCC CHAIRMAN ENCOURAGES COLLABORATION TO MEET TASK FORCE GOAL: USE OF
mHEALTH SHOULD BE ROUTINE MEDICAL BEST PRACTICE WITHIN 5 YEARS
mHEALTH TASK FORCE RELEASES NEW REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
On September 24, 2012, FCC Chairman Genachowski announced FCC plans to act on recommendations from a
new mHealth Task Force report unveiled at an event hosted at the Information Technology and Innovation
Foundation (ITIF). Chairman Genachowski also announced that the FCC would collaborate with its federal
partners and the private sector to meet the mHealth Task Force’s goal that mHealth technology be a routine
medical best practice within five years. At the event, the mHealth Task Force released its report outlining
recommendations to the FCC, other federal agencies, and to industry, to accelerate the adoption of mHealth
technologies for improved health outcomes and reduced costs across the health care system.
The independent mHealth Task Force released its recommendations to the FCC, other federal
agencies, and to industry, with the goal of making mHealth a routine medical best practice by 2017.
Recommendations include actions to increase interagency collaboration and information sharing,
expand on existing programs to encourage mHealth adoption, and build on government and industry
efforts to increase capacity, reliability, interoperability, and safety of mHealth technologies. The
report can be accessed here: http://www.itif.org/events/recommendations-mhealth-task-force
Chairman Genachowski announced that the FCC would take the following actions based on the
mHealth Task Force report:
Five year goal: Work with industry and federal partners to reach the mHealth Task Force’s goal that
mHealth technology become a routine medical best practice within five years.
Wireless health test beds: Consider an Order to streamline the FCC’s experimental licensing rules to
promote and encourage the creation of wireless health device “test beds” to permit easier testing of
Health care broadband networks: Consider an Order to comprehensively reform and modernize the
Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, to include rules to permit networks of hospital and health care
facilities to jointly apply for RHC Program funds to boost broadband capacity and enable electronic
Telehealth data: As part of the RHC modernization Order, act to collect richer data on broadband and
telehealth applications from RHC Program participants, enabling more targeted support for
International MBAN spectrum: The FCC’s International Bureau will work with FCC counterparts in
other countries to encourage them to make spectrum available for MBANs and to discuss possible
spectrum harmonization efforts to allow for medically safe cross-border patient travel and better
economies of scale for device makers.
Outreach plan: Develop and execute a health care stakeholder outreach plan to those who may not be
aware of FCC opportunities and procedures.
Health Care Director: Renew the search for a permanent FCC Health Care Director, to function as the
central point of contact to external groups on all health-related issues.
The mHealth Task Force is an independent effort, bringing together academic, industry, and
government leaders to make recommendations to overcome barriers to the adoption of wireless
In June 2012, the FCC held an mHealth Summit convening leaders from the health care technology
industry, academia, and government to discuss the opportunities and challenges of mobile and
wireless health products.
An outcome of this event was the creation of the mHealth Task Force, by participants, to research the
barriers to rapid deployment of mHealth technology and develop recommendations to government
and industry to address those barriers.
Representatives from Qualcomm, TheCarrot.com, and Partners HealthCare/Center for Integration of
Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT) served as Co-chairs for the effort to research the
barriers to rapid deployment of mHealth technology and present an industry-led plan to address those
The Task Force included participation from Alfred Mann Foundation, AT&T, CHRISTUS Health,
George Washington University School of Medicine, Health Analytic Services, Inc. (The Carrot.com),
iMedicalApps, Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA), Medtronic, Inc., mHIMSS,
Partners HealthCare Systems, Qualcomm Incorporated, Telcare, the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, Verizon Communications, WellDoc Inc., and West Health.
The FCC is committed to accelerating the adoption of mHealth technologies to improve health
outcomes and lower health care costs.
Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs):
In 2012, the FCC released an Order to allocate spectrum
for Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs), making the U.S. the first country in the world to make
spectrum available for this specific usage.1 MBANs are networks of wireless sensors, often no bigger
than a Band-Aid, which can transmit data on a patient’s vital health indicators to their doctor or
Medical Micropower Networks (MMNs):
In 2011, the FCC adopted rules to enable a new
generation of wireless medical devices that can be used to restore functions to paralyzed limbs.
MMNs are ultra-low power wideband networks consisting of transmitters implanted in the body that
take the place of damaged nerves, restoring sensation and mobility.
FCC-FDA Memorandum of Understanding:
In 2010, the FCC entered into an unprecedented
partnership with the Food and Drug Administration, working together to ensure that communications-
related medical innovations can swiftly and safely be brought to market.
Rural Health Care Reform:
The FCC initiated the Rural Health Care (RHC) Pilot program to
harness the potential of broadband health care networks to improve the quality and reduce the cost of
health care in rural areas, and to inform the redesign of its permanent RHC program. The FCC plans
to act by the end of the year on permanent reforms to the program.
THE HEALTH CARE TECHNOLOGY REVOLUTION
Mobile and wireless health technology can increase efficiency and improve care delivery
throughout the health care system.
Improved quality of care: Continuous monitoring gives physicians a more comprehensive view of a
patient’s condition. Automatic alerts allow physicians to intervene or modify treatment before a
patient’s condition becomes life-threatening.
o Patients who used a mobile phone tracking system received regular, tailored self-care messages
and were able to achieve significant reduction in blood sugar levels over a one-year long study.2
o Geisinger Medical Center tested a “medical home” initiative among Medicare patients and found
an 8 percent drop in hospital admissions and a 4 percent reduction in overall health costs over the
first year.3 The program utilizes text messaging and other technology to increase patients’
adherence to their treatment regimens.
1 Chairman’s Proposal To Spur Innovation In Medical Body Area Networks: http://www.fcc.gov/document/chairman-proposal-spur
2 Charlene C. Quinn, et al., Cluster-Randomized Trial of a Mobile Phone Personalized Behavioral Intervention for Blood Glucose Control,
Diabetes Care, Sept. 2011: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/34/9/1934.abstract
3 See Note 9.
o A recent trial found that mobile technology contributed to increased health among participants.4
Another recent study found that a diabetes smartphone app, combined with text messaging from a
health care provider, significantly improved health indicators for diabetes patients.5
Increased health care cost savings:
o mHealth can reduce the costs of medical care among the elderly by 25%, by reducing the number
of face to-face consultations needed, and allowing seniors to live independently and spend more
time at home, instead of more expensive hospital stays.6
o Accessing health records wirelessly and remotely increases efficiency and avoids duplication,
leading to savings of up to 30% in administrative costs.7
mHealth usage is growing: By 2020, “at least 160 million Americans will be monitored and treated
remotely for at least one chronic condition” according to Nerac, a Connecticut research firm.
o Increased adoption of mHealth could lead to more cost savings. Only 15 percent of the 560,000
doctors in America used digital technology to order medication for patients, as of 2010. Moving
to electronic prescriptions could save $29 billion over the next decade.8
o Americans want to integrate technology with their health care: 77 percent said they would like to
receive email reminders for doctor’s visits, 75 percent would prefer to schedule a doctor’s visit
online, and 74 percent would like to be able to email directly with their doctor.9
o Over 11 million Americans use home glucose monitors.10
4 Bonnie Spring, et al., “Multiple behavior changes in diet and activity: a randomized controlled trial using mobile technology,” May 28,
5 Morwenna Kirwan, et al., Self-management SmartPhone app for Type 1 Diabetes,” August 9, 2012:
6 Socio-Economic Impact of mHealth
, Apr. 2012: http://telenor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/BCG-Telenor-Mobile-Health-Report
8 See Note 9.
9 Darrel West, Overcoming Rural Health Care Barriers through Innovative Wireless Health Technologies, June 24, 2010:
10 See Note 9.