West Wireless Health Institute Participates in Public Meeting to Help Lower Health Care Costs and Accelerate Wireless Health Innovation
SAN DIEGO, July 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The West Wireless Health Institute (WWHI) today announced its participation in the first joint meeting hosted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to explore the potential barriers that may slow the convergence of wireless communications and health care solutions. The two-day public meeting is being held in Washington, DC, and is bringing together experts across the health care, technology, government, academic and investment communities to discuss ways to ensure the safety and reliability of wireless broadband-enabled medical devices while increasing their availability to consumers and health care providers.
On Monday, July 26, 2010, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra toured a showcase of wireless health solutions available at the event. In addition to the technology showcase, the meeting includes a series of panel presentations and roundtable discussions. Dr. Joseph Smith, WWHI's chief medical and science officer, spoke on a panel focused on the importance of venture capital and investment support to drive research and development of innovative wireless health solutions. The event is available live online at http://reboot.fcc.gov/live/ and an archived webcast will be made available at http://reboot.fcc.gov/video-archives.
"The joint FCC-FDA public meeting is a vital first step in providing the regulatory clarity that is needed to spur investment and innovation in health care delivery," said Smith. "The relationship between FDA approval and FCC certification of wireless-enabled medical devices must be further delineated and expedited to overcome hurdles to innovation identified both by both agencies. While the venture capital community has been historically adept at finding and advancing solutions to unmet clinical needs, we must address what may be the most significant unmet need in health care – affordability."
Following the public announcement of the two-day event, a variety of leading venture capitalist firms emphasized the need to increase investment and innovation in this emerging global industry. It is important to focus on the current impediments to VC investing, particularly regulatory clarity, as it is essential to unleash the potential of risk capital to fuel the development of innovative technologies and solutions to make healthcare affordable.
"This convergent space is very interesting as a potential investment thesis given the promise of cost reduction and improved clinical outcomes," said Paul McCreadie, principal, Arboretum Ventures. "However its early days and business models have yet to be defined. A clearer regulatory framework will only spur further experimentation and investment. The two-day event held by the FCC and FDA is a great start to furthering the whole area of mobile health."
"The convergence of wireless telecommunications and health care is a very exciting and dynamic area with huge promise," said Terry McGuire, co-founder and general partner, Polaris Venture Partners. "However, clarifying regulatory processes is needed to spur investment and innovation within the space and we applaud the FCC's efforts in hosting the joint meeting with the FDA. This is an important first step in understanding the issues and providing guidance such that the investment community can better evaluate regulatory risk. We are extremely pleased that the Agencies are leading this pro investment, pro innovation charge."
"The Health Chapter of the National Broadband Plan had some insightful recommendations and it's great that the joint event with the FDA is taking place," said Tom Hawes, M.D., MBA, vice president, Sandbox Industries. "Advancing the regulations in wireless health will only make it more attractive as an investment thesis and we look forward to following the debate."
"Wireless medical technologies can enable a cost-effective solution to one of the ongoing critical challenges in health intervention - behavior modification," said Jim Glasheen, Ph.D., general partner, Technology Partners. "These innovations can permit greater clinician insight or encourage medication adherence or simply facilitate ubiquitous lifestyle intervention. The impact of these innovations can be profound both for the patient and the overall healthcare system. However, as an area of investment, this arena is challenging, due in no small part to the regulatory uncertainty. With that in mind, I am enthusiastically supportive that the FCC is working together with the FDA in taking a first-step towards putting in place a pro-investment / pro-innovation policy."
The sentiment was echoed by Darren Hite of Aberdare Ventures, who was also on the venture panel. "We applaud the FCC in hosting the workshop with the FDA," said Hite. "Providing greater certainty in the space can only encourage further investment and innovation."
Wireless health solutions offer the opportunity for infrastructure independent health care in which patients can be diagnosed, monitored, and often treated wherever and whenever they need care, and in the process avoid costly, complex, time-consuming and inefficient interactions with an already over-stressed and geographically constrained health care system. At the same time, because of their pervasiveness, cell phones and other wireless technologies are well-suited to transmit information and help patients and health care providers manage chronic disease. Wireless technology offers real-time and ongoing monitoring of a patient's condition, whereas in-person, physician office visits present only a snapshot of the patient's condition at a fixed time and place.
"WWHI commends the FCC and FDA for beginning this important process and adjourning such a diverse group across health care, telecommunications, business, government and economics," said Don Casey, CEO. "The Institute looks forward to continuing to work together with FCC, FDA, other government agencies and key stakeholders to improve health care for all Americans and drive down the cost of care through the use of novel wireless technologies. To ensure the acceleration of the industry, it is imperative to support and share the FDA's mandate to maintain the safety and effectiveness of medical devices and promote public health."
The West Wireless Health Institute (www.westwirelesshealth.org) is one of the first medical research organizations in the world supporting the exploration and application of wireless technologies to advance infrastructure independent health care. Founded in March 2009 by the Gary and Mary West Foundation, the nonprofit Institute is dedicated to innovating, validating, advocating for, investing in and commercializing the use of wireless technologies to transform medicine. Its mission is to lower health care costs by accelerating the availability of wireless medical technology. The Institute is based in San Diego, California, the global center for health care innovation.
SOURCE Gary and Mary West Wireless Health Institute