Dr. Homero Rivas is an emerging pioneer in the mHealth and telemedicine sectors. After training for his medical degree in Mexico, Dr. Rivas moved to the United States in his mid-twenties. He understood the necessity to obtain practical business skills while also practicing medicine. He admits that many physicians are quite naïve when it comes to running and organizing a business such as a medical practice. In order to enhance his knowledge and skill set, Dr. Rivas received an MBA from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business.
mHealth and Telemedicine
While Dr. Rivas still performs 3-4 surgeries on a daily basis, he also explores his passion for telemedicine and mHealth. With a group of developers, he has created mobile apps for patients to use during post-op recovery. He says this has been a fantastic way to scale his practice. In addition to performing bariatric surgeries, Dr. Rivas serves as the Director of Innovative Surgery at Stanford. In this capacity, he learns how to incorporate new technologies into the operating room that increase efficiency and reduce costs. He recently watched a surgery performed in Spain in real-time. Dr. Pedro Guillén in Madrid wore a pair of Google Glass which broadcasted the surgery in real-time to Dr. Rivas and others around the world.
Stanford University is at the forefront of advocating free online courses accessible to participants from all over the world. Dr. Rivas aligned himself with the Vice of Provost of Online Learning at the university to design an online course dedicated to mHealth. His proposal won support and funding to teach mHealth to a global audience. With Eric Leroux, Dr. Rivas led this course and exchange of ideas. The course’s reception has been incredibly encouraging for the future of mHealth. Nearly 8,000 participants enrolled in the course. Dr. Rivas credits the success of the course to the quality and intellect of the students. He said the course was a very good learning experience for him, and he was impressed with the exchange of ideas about mHealth.
The growing scarcity of primary physicians within the United States is alarming, however; implementation of mHealth and telemedicine technologies could improve access for patients while also keeping costs down. As Dr. Rivas noted, “No innovation will be universally adopted unless it makes economic sense, and I believe mobile health certainly can be adopted.” mHealth also is a perfect tool for doctors and health professionals to invest in platforms that promote prevention techniques and strategies. For example, Dr. Rivas spoke about a combination of mHealth and telemedicine to treat and diagnose non-documented Hispanic immigrants at an early stage to prevent an expensive visit to an emergency room. In addition, mHealth and telemedicine have practical uses in developing countries in which these platforms can reach patients who are geographically inaccessible or face security obstacles.
Overcoming Obstacles to mHealth
As mHealth and telemedicine technologies expand, the next few years will be a fascinating period for healthcare innovation and transformation. However, there are obstacles that need to be addressed. Dr. Rivas cited the importance of understanding legislation and regulation pertaining to specific countries within Latin America. Even more crucial, he specified the necessity to innovate the process in which doctors and health professionals are educated about advances in technology. He stressed the absolute importance for innovators and leaders of mHealth to have a robust background in health, business, and technology in order to succeed. Dr. Rivas is a strong believer that mHealth will disrupt healthcare and deliver higher quality care to patients in a cost-conscientious manner.
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