5 Questions about Mobile Heath (mHealth) and defining what it is

1. How is Telehealth related to mHealth?

With the emergence of mHealth, telehealth has become a sub-category inside the definition of mHealth. Based on the fact that telehealth has been around for an extended period of time, it is going to take a longer period of time for people to not separate the two due familiarity with the term “Telehealth”.  But just like most of the population referred to copies as a “Xerox” for decades, over time the term “copies” have come back to popularity.  I believe that the same scenario will play out here if a better term for Telehealth is not established.

2. What are the International Definitions exist that change the delivery of care or the location of care?

“I don’t think we have an international definition, let alone international standards yet. It would be interesting if an international body (such as the ISO) would weigh in.” Says Lee Kim an Intellectual Property and Health Information Technology Attorney and also is the current Chairperson of the mHIMSS Legal and Policy Taskforce.  I agree and also share the same interest to see if ISO will tackle this subject.


3. What education and policy impacts should policy makers consider to drive the conversation?

Policy makers need to take into consideration that mHealth is going to be a large sector of healthcare, and these policy makers will need to proactively add policies, grants, and education assistance for mobile health education and delivery to meet this need.


4. What reimbursement implications at both federal and state levels when defining mHealth/telehealth?

As it stands today, there aren’t a lot of reimbursements being paid for mHealth because it is relatively new as a general healthcare service.  The government is still trying to define the services that mHealth provides patients and therefore they are slow to build reimbursement policies around mHealth.  However, telehealth has a set of reimbursements that are already in place due to its longevity, and being a subcategory of mHealth, it comprises a majority of reimbursements for this category.  The overall category suffers because of rapid technology advancements, and polices traditionally do not move at that speed.  Going forward, I believe that policy makers will see the cost savings for mHealth, which will create more opportunities for reimbursements around mHealth.


5. Should we continue to use the term telehealth or is there a better term in light of mobile?

As mHealth evolves, the term telehealth will survive for a while because Healthcare Professionals are comfortable with this terminology. My belief is that the term mHealth will expand as healthcare professionals accept Telehealth as a sub category of mHealth.  Whatever terminology that is created to define the whole of mobile health technology will take some time to gain traction with the general public. Healthcare Professionals



Jonathan Levoy is the Vice President of Alego Health and is the Chairperson of the mHIMSS Digital Media Taskforce.  To comment or add information about this topic or mHealth, email Jonathan Levoy at jlevoy@alegohealth.com

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