Sooner or Later, We Are Going to Need Mobile Healthcare Solutions

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Patients and physicians have embraced mobile healthcare solutions for everything from communications and remote monitoring to EMRs and e-prescribing.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute (HRI) published an interesting report this month on mobile technology that looks at the potential of physicians and patients to leverage technology in healthcare. It’s free after you register with the site, if you want to look at it yourself.

According to the report, the idea of e-health is embraced by both providers and consumers. That consumer interest is particularly noteworthy, because in at least one scenario (remote monitoring), a significant portion (40%) of consumers indicated a willingness to pay out of pocket for service.

A couple of weeks ago, FierceMobileHealthcare published a story about physicians’ use of smartphones and their desire to integrate mobile technology into hospital systems. The HRI report echoes that assessment, with 86% of surveyed physicians reporting a desire to access EMRs using mobile technology. Another 83% would like to use mobile technology to prescribe medications. A full two-thirds reported that they are already using their personal devices for mobile healthcare solutions that aren’t connected to their practice or hospital systems.

Whether patients use a smartphone or not, cell phones have become so common that they are taking the place of land lines in many households. And people aren’t just using them to make calls — the vast majority of cell phones come with texting capability. Do you know which group of patients among both the insured and uninsured most regularly uses texting for communications? Medicaid patients, at 80%, according to HRI. That kind of blew my mind.

Obviously, there is a tremendous amount of fertile ground in this area that is not being exploited, and HRI surmises that dragging feet are primarily the result of the current reimbursement system set up by both the government and third-party payers. The Value-Based Payment Modifier included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may help to address some aspects of this issue.

Building the bridge between healthcare and business will take time. However, I’m hopeful that technology will push business to make changes sooner rather than later.

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