mHealth Summit 2010 overview

Last week, one of the trending twitter hash tags was #mHS10. Organised by mHealth Alliance, the 2010 mHealth summit was certainly the most galvanizing mHealth event globally – bringing together 2000 delegates from more than 38 countries. This is one of a series of posts summarizing the highlights. Other posts include Patricia Mechael’s pearls of mHealth wisdommHealth is not about technology, mHealth and the evidencenotable tweets and mHealth in western vs global contexts.

According to Wikipedia,

“mhealth (also written as m-health or mobile health) is a term used for the practice of medical and public health, supported by mobile devices… mHealth applications include the use of mobile devices in collecting community and clinical health data, delivery of healthcare information to practitioners, researchers, and patients, real-time monitoring of patient vital signs, and direct provision of care (via mobile telemedicine).

I was able to follow some of the sessions via live webcast but mainly relied on the informative tweets of enthusiastic tweeple/tweeps (twitterers). In the next few posts, I will capture memorable tweets and my thoughts and reflections.

Pluses

  • The conference was graced by such remarkable and influential thought leaders as Bill Gates and Ted Turner. It drew speakers from respected organizations like Rockefeller foundation – which lends important credibility and visibility to the growing mHealth field.
  • The experts represented diverse areas: public and private; technology and health; rural and urban; policy makers, practitioners and academics. Such rich multisector dialogue with the resulting cross fertilization of ideas has promise of systemic impact.
  • Despite its huge size, the summit provided an ideal forum for different players  to share ideas and lessons learned. The global health arena is highly prone to fragmented and uncoordinated interventions fraught with wasteful duplication rather than productive collaboration. mHealth Alliance’s Health Unbound was promoted  as precisely the forum to promote knowledge sharing and collaboration in the mHealth community.
  • The conference afforded the rare opportunity to address the potential of mHealth in both western and global contexts:

It was particularly heartening to note the recognition that developing countries are further along in these technologies as they a) have had to be more innovative and b) have not been hindered by legacy systems which tend to interfere with the adoption of new technologies. It is a refreshing shift when the north finds positive lessons to learn from the south.

Minuses

  • Some seasoned tweeps, notably @downeym who attended mHealth 2009 summit reported a déjà vu feeling as the same issues came up. According to @downeym, the previous summit mainly featured “doers” while the 2010 summit was dominated by “talkers”.
  • Awareness is a good thing but there was valid concern that the summit overhyped mobile phones as the antidote to all global health problems, creating unrealistic expectations. Is mHealth  yet another bandwagon that will, predictably, underdeliver?
  • It is challenging to meaningfully address both the global health challenges and western perspectives in the same forum because the contexts differ significantly. There may be transferable experience but the different regions have unique challenges and needs.
    • Thierry Zylberberg, Orange aptly highlighted this when making the distinction between the role of mhealth in developed and developing contexts: To the Developed world: mhealth brings more efficiency, to the Developing world: access to health. Needless to say, it is essential that the application is appropriate for the environment.
    • RT @clarkritchie: In the US, mobiles are personal devices, but in many other cultures they are shared or communal #mhs10
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2 Comments on “mHealth Summit 2010 overview”


  1. […] 2010 mHealth Summit: Show me the evidence? This is part 3 of a series on the recent mHealth Summit 2010. See post 1 for an overview. […]


  2. […] is the fourth of a series of posts on the recent mHealth Summit. Previous posts include an overview, Patricia Mechel’s pearls of mHealth wisdom, mHealth is not about technology, mHealth and the […]


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