Technology is advancing quickly in the mHealth and telehealth spaces. Vast improvements in audio and video capabilities, for example, make for more productive remote visits and more accurate remote diagnoses.
The FDA is looking to oversee some mHealth apps that could be considered medical devices. Although an argument could be made that too much government oversight can stifle innovation, this step could lead to better quality medical apps. According to the report: "Proper rules" for the approval of mobile health applications will "increase the productivity and the accuracy of the Mobile Health applications in the future."
The FDA wants to oversee mobile medical apps that are used as an accessory to a medical device that it already regulates or that transforms a mobile platform into a regulated medical device. The FDA has already cleared a handful of mobile medical apps, such as a smartphone-based ultrasound and an application that allows doctors to view medical images.
Telemedicine equipment is expensive. But the feds are also driving growth with federal grants aimed at using telehealth to improve rural access to healthcare or healthcare app developer challenges encourage—and reward—innovation. Finally, remote care payment reform is slowly expanding Medicare reimbursements for doctors who monitor patients remotely in urban and suburban areas.