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Mobile Health and Self Care

By September 1, 2010Commentary

Health care is a huge economic force and there is plenty of room for all kinds of hot “trends”.  One of the hottest is the use of mobile, wireless communications technology.  Deloitte’s Center for Health Solutions released an Issue Brief looking at the potential of a personal health record maintained and accessed by mobile devices to effect greater self-care and self-management of health care.   (Deloitte Brief) The theory is that consumers will want to use and will use mobile devices to track and collect relevant information that is stored on a mobile device-accessible personal health record.

The Brief cites a number of environmental factors which favor this trend, including increasing EHR use by providers; regulatory-driven clarity on technical and content standards and privacy; greater device technical capability; lower cost of devices and the greater share of overall costs being borne by consumers, particularly under high-deductible and coinsurance plans.  Some of the inhibitors to the vision include the current low level of electronic data collection and ability to share data across providers, payers and consumers; unenthusiastic consumer demand; privacy and provider liability concerns.

Some of the other issues relating to the ultimate utility of mobile health applications are the extent to which it affects the areas of the highest cost–older people with chronic diseases, especially in the very serious phases of those diseases.  A lot of that cohort isn’t technology savvy and often has cognitive impairments which means a proxy is involved in health decisions.  Another is that for many people, a home or work personal computer may be a more likely tool for accessing, inputting and sharing information.  These tend to be matters that take more time than is usually used for a mobile device interaction.  It will be interesting to watch the ongoing development and adoption of this functionality.

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