Transformation. Collaboration. Exponentiality. These are the buzzwords used today at the 10th Annual Mobile Health Summit in Toronto.

Dr. John Mattison, CMIO of Kaiser Permanente opened the conference with a discussion of how mobile technology is transforming patient treatment options. He discussed mHealth as playing a key role in “a Behavioural Symphony of Wellness” as part of his vision to make the world a better – and healthier – place.

For patients, transformation will mean a new and broader range of treatment options and increasing access to better care from home and remote locations. Patients, increasingly, will take part in decisions concerning their health and set health goals for themselves. For physicians and other healthcare providers, transformation – it is hoped – will have to do with faster access to better patient data, with improved collaboration between providers, and with the ability to treat the patients that need it most, first.

For tech innovators, this is a fine time to be involved in health care. Telemedicine and more specifically mobile healthcare is a reality and is here to stay with advances in: Doctor-patient interaction by clinical videoconferencing, eConsultation between specialist physicians, telehomecare approaches to the management of patients with chronic diseases like diabetes and chronic lung disease.

Dr Edward Brown, CEO of the Ontario Telemedicine Network, says that, where once telemedicine was focused on bringing care to remote northern Ontario locations, now these technologies are being brought to bear in urban communities as well. For Brown, we are about half-way into a revolution in the way we take care of people. Medicine and health care more generally are moving from the hospital to the home. Technology is a key ingredient of these changes.

Mattison’s opening remarks focused on the concept that  a number of factors are all advancing exponentially in healthcare, including mobile technology. Personal digital devices are ubiquitous and mobile health-related apps number in the thousands.

Looking at the future of “Wellness”, Mattison says collaboration is imperative. He stresses the need to be following people and treating them where they live, work and play. Mobile apps can go with people everywhere. Doctors need the technology to reach the patients, and the developers need the doctors to know how to build the best, most relevant applications.

The speakers have set an excellent tone for the beginning of Toronto’s Mobile Health Summit: entrepreneurial spirit and a noble calling go forward hand-in-hand. I will be covering the rest of the conference as it explores case studies of how far technology and medicine have already come, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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