Day 4 @ Bellagio: Commitments to mHealth & the Magic of Bellagio

by Katherine Miller, executive director of communications, UN Foundation

After four long days in Bellagio, a couple of things are clear. Conferences are conferences — meaning that even the world’s nicest conference facility is still, well, a facility. But there is a certain magic about Bellagio and that was clear by the end of the conference. So while I’m glad to be home, it is also because I’m excited about being back and work and trying to make the ideas that came out the mHealth session something real and help deliver better health care to the developing world.

Work that is even more exciting because the group of people who attended the conference — including representatives from Noikia, Vodafone Group, Gates Foundation, QualComm, Microsoft, and many other companies and NGOs — all made real, measurable commitments to helping promote the issues related to mHealth both back within their own organizations and with the general public. The “commitment wall” was amazing to watch grow. One-by-one, representatives from each of the 30 different groups represented got up and announced what they were going to do to help continue the work from Bellagio. After each sticky note went up on the board, the room applauded and each new person who got up seemed more excited than the last. The mood continued to lift as people also realized the commitments weren’t just “I promise to promote mHealth” but instead were things like, “I pledge to host 4-6 meetings at my company’s offices over the next 6 months and invite experts from the global health field to speak about mHealth.” Smart and measurable were the overall theme of each of the 65 different ideas that went on the wall.

It will take several weeks, maybe even months, before we can discuss some of the projects that the groups committed to but they were audacious and innovative. Many harness existing technologies in entirely new ways and others may completely reinvent the mHealth field. The ideas that sprung forth are also exciting because they include large-scale partnerships that could revolutionize health care delivery in the developing world.

But the coming months will be filled with lots of information about the Bellagio projects. The Technology Partnership team is going to start a “road show” with findings and outcomes from the conference. The Rockefeller Foundation is going to publish a book from the entire four-month long eHealth conference and we’ll be reporting back to Dispatch readers both here and at the UN Foundation, so stay tuned for updates on the progress the post-Bellagio team makes on mHealth.