The Masters in Health Administration at George Washington University (MHA@GW) held an online Google Hangout panel discussion about wearable Health Tech devices and how they be used effectively in healthcare. The organizers have posted a replay of the session, as well as a recap of the session that makes some useful points.

The session was moderated by the associate dean for public health practice at the Milken Institute of Public Health at GW, and the panelists included a representative from UNICEF Innovation in San Francisco, a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media, the program director for place-based initiatives for the National Collaborative for Health Equality (NCHE), and the research and strategy manager from Rock Health seed fund. One of the major points of the discussion was that gathering data is not enough; analytics are required to uncover the valuable information contained in the data that can lead to more effective actions. Another point is that the technology must be broadly accessible. Users from all socioeconomic backgrounds need products that are affordable, that they understand how to use, and that have the required supporting infrastructure such as telecommunications systems. This last factor can be a big problem in sparsely-populated rural areas.

The panelists also made the case that some of the biggest gains could be made in developing countries that don’t have extensive healthcare infrastructures. Just as smartphone technology has made it possible for many of these areas to leapfrog over the need for wired telecommunications, that same technology can serve as the foundation for many mobile health projects. It is important to keep in mind, however, that cultural and generational differences exist within populations, and these can require different program designs in order to be effective.