M-Health Use Poised for Continued Growth


M-health pic

Image: forbes.com

Based in San Francisco, Peter “Pete” Killcommons is the inventor of a Web-based radiology viewer and chief executive officer of Medweb. During a recent trip to Japan, Peter Killcommons worked to expand the use of m-health (mobile health) technology for in-home care of the elderly.

M-health refers to the use of mobile devices and wireless technology in health care. It has been used to educate users about preventive health care services in areas without adequate health care but large populations and good cellular coverage. It is also used for disease management and tracking epidemic outbreaks.

Patients can receive or transmit text or voice messages from health care agencies, and health care providers can receive timely data and collaborate with others.

Wearable devices such as Fitbit and smart watches are another trend in m-health. These devices can monitor a patient’s vital signs and thus avoid costly hospital admissions. They also come with apps that, when combined with telehealth services, are useful in preventing health risks.

Though already popular, the adoption of wearable devices is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 35 percent between 2016 and 2021 and reach over $60 billion. The primary drivers behind this increase are aging populations, the focus on reducing health care costs, and the availability of wireless data coverage.

New Fisher House Slated for Columbia, Missouri

Fisher House Foundation pic

Fisher House Foundation
Image: fisherhouse.org

Dr. Peter “Pete” Killcommons currently serves as the CEO of MedWeb, a company that specializes in mobile medical technologies that can be deployed in developing countries. Outside of his professional life, Peter Killcommons is a longtime supporter of Fisher House.

Fisher House Foundation recently announced the selection of 14 new sites to place Fisher Houses, including Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Columbia, Missouri. Similar to the mission of Ronald McDonald Houses, Fisher Houses provide families crucial support by allowing them to live free of charge while their loved ones are receiving inpatient hospital treatment at VA medical centers.

Truman Memorial spokesman Stephen Gaither said that the hospital sees veterans from 43 surrounding counties, meaning that some families have to travel long distances for their loved ones to receive treatment. Fisher House Foundation president Dave Coker said he believes the Columbia Fisher House could begin construction as soon as 2018. Thus far, Fisher House Foundation is responsible for a total of 71 houses built near VA hospital facilities and military bases.

Grassroots Disaster Training for Youth through WorldCares Center

WorldCares Center pic

WorldCares Center
Image: worldcares.org

Peter (Pete) Killcommons, CEO of medical imaging and communications group Medweb, leads all aspects of company operations, including the group’s disaster response division. On a personal level, Peter Killcommons contributes to such relief organizations as the American Red Cross and World Cares Center.

Dedicated to helping communities prepare for and respond to disaster, WorldCares Center provides in an effort to achieve these goals a variety of grassroots training sessions. Programs are available to all members of the general public, who benefit from understanding their community’s needs and risk factors in a public emergency. WorldCares begins raising community awareness of these issues with its Grassroots Readiness and Response Overview training, which introduces participants to the resources they have and the skills they need to act appropriately during an emergency.

In addition, young citizens may participate in community awareness, disaster volunteering, and individual and family preparedness programs specifically designed for their age group. In these training programs, youth learn about the impact of natural and human-driven disasters while developing the leadership and problem-solving skills they would need in such a situation. Dedicated to empowering young people in disaster response, WorldCares also offers a youth-focused Train the Trainer series, which prepares participants to be emergency readiness leaders in their own communities.

VA-sponsored Study Suggests Telemedicine can Help Veterans with PTSD

JAMA Psychiatry pic

JAMA Psychiatry
Image: archpsyc.jamanetwork.com

Peter (Pete) Killcommons, MD, CEO of Medweb, has been involved in telemedicine services for nearly 25 years. In addition to his extensive work in rural communities, Dr. Peter (Pete) Killcommons has worked extensively with the Armed Forces to provide high-quality health-care services in remote locations.

According to a landmark study published in JAMA Psychiatry and funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), researchers reported that as approximately 9 percent of the population enrolled in VA health services–more than a half million individuals–were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A range of treatment options exist for PTSD, but with 37 percent of veterans living in rural areas, a significant population faces geographical barriers to receiving specialized treatment at brick-and-mortar facilities.

However, a pilot VA telehealth program implemented in 2014 exhibited promising figures for rural inhabitants. The JAMA Psychiatry study showed a dramatic difference in cognitive processing therapy coverage–approximately 54.9 percent of veterans in the telehealth program received therapy, compared to 12.1 percent in standard care. Additionally, patients in the telehealth program showed larger improvements in post-traumatic diagnostic assessments. Throughout 2014, VA telehealth services served nearly 700,000 veterans, with more than half of them located in rural areas.

At the Crossroads of Technology and Medicine: An Interview with Dr. Peter Killcommons

An expert in the field of telemedicine, radiology, and medical imaging, Dr. Peter Killcommons has spent his career traveling the world, assisting underprivileged communities with essential medical care. Currently, Dr. Killcommons acts as CEO for Medweb, a leading company in telemedicine, teleradiology, and RIS/PACS (radiology information system/picture archiving and communication system) installations.


1. How has technology affected the practice of medicine over the past 20 years?

In terms of diagnostics alone, we are miles ahead of where we were in the past. Using sophisticated imaging systems and sensors chips, we can now pinpoint a tumor or a host of other conditions much earlier than ever before. In fact, through our enhanced diagnostic capacity, some conditions don’t even have the chance to become symptomatic before we can get in there and start delivering appropriate treatment. From a hardware perspective, the diagnostic equipment in use today completely eclipses what was in use just a few decades ago. Obviously, these machines only work to supplement doctors and specialists using them, which cannot go unnoticed. Medical education is much more comprehensive than in years past.


2. What is a specific technology that has played a significant role in your career?

In my work, imaging is essential, but there has to be a place to store those images. I was able to implement a cloud-based storage system with the Dell DX6000. Using this system in tandem with MAFS (Medweb Archive File System), we are able to access radiological and other medical images from any point in the chain under a scalable, platform-independent architecture. I expect this type of system to become the norm, allowing any number of medical professionals instant access to the information they need to make effective decisions to save patients’ lives and preserve health.


3. Do you have any predictions about the future of medical technology?

I imagine an increase in remote medical services. There is such a tremendous demand on physicians’ time in the current system, and it only seems to be getting worse. The time saved via telemedicine should eventually cause a positive chain reaction resulting in more doctors fulfilling their raison d’être, treating patients.