FCC, FDA Partner To Advance Telehealth - InformationWeek
Government // Leadership
11:54 AM

FCC, FDA Partner To Advance Telehealth

Healthcare is one of the areas the Federal Communications Commission sees as benefiting from expansion of broadband in the U.S.

Slideshow: Disney Cancer Center Offers High Tech Care
(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)
The Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have joined forces to help advance innovation and investment in wireless-enabled telehealth devices, which can improve the quality of a patient's health and reduce healthcare costs.

FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg and FCC chairman Julius Genachowski signed a joint statement of principles and memorandum of understanding at the start of a two-day conference, which began on Monday, to showcase a broad range of cutting-edge wireless medical devices as well as discuss issues affecting the telehealth industry.

The joint statement declared that healthcare providers, patients, and other stakeholders "should have clear regulatory pathways, processes, and standards to bring broadband and wireless-enabled medical devices to market. This includes clarity regarding each agency's scope of authority with respect to these devices, predictability regarding regulatory pathways, and streamlining the application process, as appropriate, to facilitate innovation while protecting patients."

"Today's action will promote investment and innovation in health technologies, help realize potential cost savings, and deliver real health benefits to the American people," Genachowski said in his address to the conference in Washington, D.C.

Genachowski also said innovators and investors need more certainty and clarity as they develop and launch the next generation of telehealth devices such as wireless sensors that remotely monitor heart rhythm and portable glucose monitoring systems. He added that the partnership is a major step in implementing the FCC's National Broadband Plan, released in March, which outlined the ways in which wireless technology could advance the quality of healthcare.

Irene Berlinsky, senior research analyst covering multiplay services at IDC, observed that by partnering with the FDA, the FCC is signaling its commitment to the larger societal goal of increasing access to healthcare that the Broadband Plan means to address.

"A partnership between the FCC and the FDA is a surprising but logical outgrowth of the FCC's interest in telemedicine and telehealth," Berlinsky said. "Its National Broadband Plan singled out healthcare as one of the sectors with the potential to benefit most from expanding broadband access to rural and underserved areas."

Berlinsky added that the partnership shows that the government recognizes that an integrated approach is required to adequately regulate the medical device market. She also said she will take a wait and see attitude regarding whether the partnership will in fact advance investment and innovation in the telehealth sector.

"It remains to be seen how this partnership affects the regulatory burden wireless health devices will bear. The FCC and the FDA collaboration is meant to streamline the review process for new devices. Nonetheless, it is possible that involving two agencies may in some cases slow the time to market for new devices," Berlinsky said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Digital Transformation Myths & Truths
Transformation is on every IT organization's to-do list, but effectively transforming IT means a major shift in technology as well as business models and culture. In this IT Trend Report, we examine some of the misconceptions of digital transformation and look at steps you can take to succeed technically and culturally.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll