Reporters learn about wearables, health IT and telehealth

About Kimberly Leonard

Kimberly Leonard (@leonardkl) is a member of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee and past co-chair of the Washington, D.C., chapter. She covers Congress, the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services as a senior health policy reporter for the Washington Examiner.

Photo: Tina Reed, Washington Business Journal

More than 20 people came to the July 14, AHCJ chapter event in Washington, D.C., to learn about how technology affects health and what regulatory issues to watch out for.

The conversation was moderated by Politico Pro’s David Pittman (@David_Pittman), who covers health information technology. Pittman, who proposed the event, invited the panelists for their participation, and pitched the idea to the chapter co-chairs. The panelists were:

  • John Lewis, vice president of public affairs for the Association of Clinical Research Organizations;
  • Zach Rothstein, an associate vice president at AdvaMed, the medical device industry’s lobbying arm;
  • Krista Drobac, the executive director of the Alliance for Connected Care and a former advisor for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Lewis spoke about how new technology is tested and the types of privacy issues that regulators watch out for. In using other medical technology, including electronic medical-record keeping software, hospitals and doctors are still learning how to best share data with each other. The hope is that clinical trials will be able to happen faster through some of these technological advances.

Photo: Tina Reed, Washington Business Journal

Photo: Tina Reed, Washington Business Journal

Rothstein explained how items like wearables— such as the Fitbit — are different from medical devices. While they help people keep track of their steps or their calories, he explained, they do not treat or mitigate a particular disease and do not claim to do so. For this reason they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Drobac spoke about the telemedicine angle. While it gives patients the opportunity to visit virtually with a doctor at any time, and has been shown to reduce readmissions in patients who participate, many do not take up the technology. Some doctors also won’t use it because it often isn’t reimbursed through Medicare.

Photo: Tina Reed, Washington Business Journal

Photo: Tina Reed, Washington Business Journal

The casual discussion was at Matchbox on 14th Street as reporters sat at a table. At the beginning of the event, attendees spent time networking and enjoying beverages.

The leaders of the AHCJ Washington, D.C., chapter are Kimberly Leonard from U.S. News & World Report, Erin Mershon from CQ Roll Call and Tina Reed from Washington Business Journal.

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