Can mobile devices be the linchpin to lower health care costs. That is what a number of health insurance companies and mobile technology entrepreneurs think. “Essentially, such technology is introducing market forces that have long been lacking in the health care industry,” said Daniel Burrus, author, entrepreneur, and futurist from San Diego-based entrepreneur. “As result, both patients and insurers will be able to save money. The disparities (in health care prices) are giant,” he said.
According to a study published by BlueCross BlueShield published a January 2015 study reporting that the average cost for a total knee replacement was $31,124 in 64 US markets. That same medical procedure could cost as little as $11,000 in Montgomery, Ala., and as much as $70,000 in Manhattan. “All of the sudden, prices become transparent, and then prices will level out,” Burrus said. “Before, there wasn’t competition when it came to pricing.”
Other recently published articles have examined the feasibility of use of mobile phones and training of health care workers for delivery of health care services. These studies have found that mobile devices have the potential to make a dramatic difference in the areas of data collection and reporting, decision-support, training, emergency services, patient alerts and reminders, as well as supervision of patients.
Cloud based health care systems are becoming very inexpensive and they are a great fit with mobile technology in the context of a solution for health care services. This combination can also be rapidly scaled to cover large populations of either insured, or uninsured people and can even enable third world countries to bypass the health care the industry setups that have been established in developed countries much the way that mobile phone technology enabled these countries to leapfrog over the wired-phone era. Kenya has made leaps in enhancing their health service delivery to ensure their citizens benefit in the health sector. These advancements include a medley of several innovations, from developing apps, using cloud computing for data collection, to the promotion of smart phones.” Said a statement released by Safaricom, the largest telecommunication company in Kenya. The statement continued, “Recently, Safaricom introduced Mobile Health, dubbed mHealth, a technology solution to track the country’s infectious disease activity. With these initiatives more than 45 mHealth programs were developed, some are completed and operational.”
Capital BlueCross recently announced the availability of a mobile phone app that is focused on health care price data. So far, about 200,000 people have visited the web page announcing the new app and used the site to check the prices of various health care services and to make price comparisons between the various service providers. “It’s slowly increasing,” said Tammy Little, a Capital BlueCross senior product consultant.
San Diego’s Daniel Burrus added “The health care industry is moving from a break/fix model — ‘you are broken; we will fix you’ — to a predict/prevent model “to make sure the bad thing doesn’t happen.”
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