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ACHE Consultants Forum

Healthcare Consultants Forum Online Newsletter – Quarter 4, 2015

Feature Article: How Mobile Health Will Change Patient Provider Relationships

John R. Patrick, DHA
Attitude LLC
Palm Coast, Fla.

Consumers are taking more responsibility for their health and seeking to collaborate with their physicians. Mobile health apps and devices, in combination with cloud computing, will play a major role in empowering consumers. Mobile devices that support health (otherwise known as mHealth) provide that empowerment through personal supercomputers—the smartphones we carry in our pocket or purse have the power of supercomputers. Although some providers are not comfortable with consumer technologies designed for self-diagnosis, such technologies will lead to a new model of collaboration between patients and physicians—and, if adopted by providers, could potentially enhance customer satisfaction.

Part of the shift in consumer attitudes on healthcare involves collecting data related to consumers’ health. People are finding that tracking one’s health is a good tool for improving it. For example, more than half of Americans track weight, diet or exercise. Innovators are developing new mHealth apps and devices at a frenetic pace, and consumers have a healthy attitude about adopting them. According to industry estimates cited by the FDA, 500 million smartphone users worldwide will be using a healthcare application this year alone, and by 2018, 50 percent of the more than 3.4 billion smartphone and tablet users, including healthcare professionals, consumers and patients, will have downloaded mobile health applications. As consumers adopt mHealth devices, they will gravitate toward nontraditional providers that will be performing tests at a much lower cost than in traditional laboratories.

Key Questions for Healthcare Consultants to Consider

Providers need assistance in answering key questions and developing a strategy to ensure mHealth has a positive influence on their future. Some will choose to be leaders in mHealth; others will choose to be fast followers; and some will be more cautious, but all providers need to understand mHealth and its implications. Here are some key questions consultants can help answer:

The term regulation is unfavorable to many technology innovators, who fear bureaucrats will inhibit introducing new ideas to the tech field. When it comes to healthcare, regulation is a different story. The FDA sees the widespread adoption and use of mobile technologies as a way to improve health and healthcare service delivery; the agency has approved more than 150 healthcare-related apps and devices connected to smart devices, enabling a consumer-led healthcare revolution.

Following is a sample of recent developments in mHealth technology:

The Internet has empowered consumers for more than 20 years. It’s no wonder the healthcare industry is aligning itself with this empowerment, using apps to monitor their health and thus improving patient-physician relationships. Although implementation is slow, we know the use of mHealth services will accelerate—self-monitoring and self-diagnosis are here to stay. As such, an effective strategy to embrace mHealth needs to be a top priority for all healthcare consultants and providers.

John R. Patrick, DHA, is the author of Health Attitude: Unraveling and Solving the Complexities of Healthcare. He can be reached at [email protected] or via Twitter at @johnrpatrick.