The Sunshine State ranks third in the nation for cumulative number of AIDS cases, and it’s the third state for physician shortages.
Prevention and treatment are critical, and options are coming from what may initially seem like an unlikely place: mobile broadband-enabled devices like smartphones.
In a recent study from Bank of America, nearly half of respondents said they couldn’t live without their smartphones, and over 90 percent said they are “very important.”
Telemedicine enables remote face-to-face conversations between doctors and patients for treatment, nutritional guidance, and care management of HIV and AIDS. This technology helps patients receive treatment from their home or a private setting, which increases medical adherence, a critical component of treatment.
The number of people using mobile medical apps reportedly will reach 500 million by next year. HIV/AIDS-focused apps provide a range of features including medical information, reminders about appointments and medication, data tracking and pharmacy locations.
The AIDS Institute is leading an evaluation study to assess an app's ability to enhance patient adherence and better manage their disease. Assessing technology that can have a transformative impact on our patients is just one part of advancing and integrating technology into health care.
However, laws that govern telemedicine are largely rooted in Depression-era monopoly phone regulations, last updated in 1996 — well before mobile apps even existed.
We need a modern Communications Act that reflects today's digital world. Eliminating the current technology-specific “siloed” approach is central to these important changes, as that will eliminate market uncertainty and pave the way for innovations that make convergence of healthcare and broadband even more beneficial for consumers.
Fortunately, recognition for this need is growing on Capitol Hill. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is leading the effort, and Sen. John Thune, a leader on the Senate Commerce Committee, recently voiced his support for change. Our own Sen. Bill Nelson, a leader on the committee who would oversee an update to the communications law, should be an outspoken supporter of this effort.
HIV/AIDS remains a significant healthcare issue, and one that convergence of healthcare and broadband is helping us fight.
Mobile applications and the web have tremendous potential to further support and rapidly advance our work in preventing and in significantly improving treatment, treatment adherence and disease management.
Congress can and should take action to remove barriers to further developments in this area.
They can begin by acting swiftly to modernize the Communications Act so we can spur innovations in life-enhancing healthcare technologies.
Executive Director, The AIDS Institute