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The role of mHealth: Prescription for an ailing health care system

Our 2012 mHealth report shows that tech-savvy physicians and patients are bringing mobile health care into the spot light, but implementation challenges remain.

Despite a tendency to be viewed as a technology laggard, the health care industry is embracing mobile health at...

a clip even Steve Jobs could have been proud of. Indeed, it's thanks in part to Jobs and his Apple OS that the concept of "mHealth" has emerged so quickly to take a lead role in defining health care transformation.

As mHealth continues to define the industry, the market continues to grow, estimated to reach a value of $4.6 billion by 2014, according to the 2012 report,"Open Mobile: The growth era accelerates," by consulting firm Deloitte. Within that value are the hopes that wireless networks, mobile devices, new applications, and innovative approaches to care delivery and reimbursement can tackle the pressure points in a fragmented health care system. Mobile health techniques could help alleviate issues from an aging population and growing numbers of chronically ill patients to anticipated physician shortages.

Driving the demand behind increasing mHealth is the new crop of tech-savvy patients, according to Deloitte. People are using social media to interact with their peers and discuss medical conditions, and a wave of new applications is helping patients monitor prescriptions, receive appointment reminders, and send information to their caregivers. And that, in turn, is driving more sophisticated care and communication among providers and patients. Tech-savvy physicians equally are happy to use their own devices if it means productivity increases. But challenges remain in aligning mobile growth with the unique needs of health care.

We see the same thoughts reflected in the results of our own mHealth survey, which includes responses from more than 230 CIOs, providers and other IT professionals. Mobile devices and applications are growing tremendously inside health care organizations –somewhat to the reluctance of managers, who understand the drive for new technology, but are struggling to upgrade costly infrastructure to support wireless networks and find new ways to ensure sensitive data remains protected and secure.

That said, the growth will continue as health care organizations face increasing demands from federal initiatives to bolster information exchange and meet meaningful use criteria, such as patient engagement requirements, our respondents say.

With all the pieces coming together, it’s easy to see why mHealth holds so much potential as an industry game changer. That convergence of technology, the easy flow of information and deeper patient-provider relationships all point to the health care goals of reducing waste and costs, while improving quality and care. Read through our mHealth report to see how IT experts hope to foster that convergence and meet health care goals.

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