The United States has the best medical care available in the world with its top of the line facilities and experts in the field of medicine. Compared to other developed countries, it also spends the most on health (Barr, 2011). However, despite the high health allocation, the US has “the most costly system by far, with forty-eight million people uninsured, high infant mortality rates, decreasing access to care, quality of care issues, long waits in emergency rooms, [and] insurance premiums escalating faster than the cost of living” (Weinberg, 2007, p.3). The passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which aims to address these issues, among others, have also mentioned numerous times the use of mobile devices in healthcare. The adoption of mobile healthcare is anticipated to reduce costs and deliver effective interventions. Thus, it is timely to look into the potentials of mobile healthcare in the aspects of quality, cost, and effectiveness of health delivery.
Mobile healthcare is evident in various aspects of the healthcare delivery. In hospitals today, mobile devices are used by nurses and doctors to store and share critical patient information (Camleck, 2011). This is only one part of the entire mobile healthcare system which also includes medical sensors, computers, and information technologies (Jasemian, 2011).
Although there are already existing facilities that maximize the use of even more advanced technologies, the majority of the health facilities have just began the digital transformation. Charts and doctors’ notes which were previously prepared by hands are now being digitized. Follow-up care and remote monitoring of patients are also being recognized as effective means to ensure instructions for full recovery after hospital stay are being followed. These are done through mobile applications or devices and applicable even for the elderly. Through the communications of patients and health practitioners via mobile devices, cost may lower also due to the minimal readmission. According to figures by MHealth consultancy (2012), mobile healthcare have substantial benefits which include a 25% decrease of healthcare costs for the care of the elderly, twice the number of people in the rural areas can be reached, and the costs of getting information can also lower by 24%. There are other existing studies pointing out that mobile healthcare reduce costs.
The field of medicine seems to have lagged behind its counterparts in the manufacturing and banking industries in the use of automatic devices (Jasemian, 2011). However, the increasing use of mobile devices by both providers and consumers as well as the fast growth of technological innovations have caught up with the medical field. Mobile healthcare and its supporting structures are being developed and increasingly utilized. With this new development, it is important that the different facets involving the use of the service be studied in detail. Thus, there are at least three important elements that merit investigation in the field of mobile healthcare.
The first pertains to the cost. Does the use of mobile devices, mobile applications, and digital services lower the cost of healthcare? It would be a worthwhile endeavor to look into how these mobile services decrease the overall cost when the patient factors in the copayment, insurance contributions, out-of pocket expenses, and fees for subscription of apps. Are the costs on the part of health facilities lowered as well? Where does the monetary gain go in the field of mobile healthcare? Quality and effectiveness is the second element that needs to be scrutinized. In mobile healthcare, are mobile follow-up more effective than personal consultations? Do health mobile applications provide a quality pre-consultation experience? The third element is acceptability. It is important to know the perception of users of the mobile health care system. How do they feel about the applications, mobile devices, and information systems. Are there issues about privacy and security? All these elements are critical in the investigation about the mobile healthcare. More questions would certainly arise in the course of the study, however the ones already mentioned would serve to jumpstart this inquiry.
Barr, D.A. (2011). Introduction to US Health Policy: The Organization, Financing and Delivery of Health Care in America, 3rd edition. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins Press.
Camleck, V. (2011). Healthcare mobile information flow. Information Services & Use, 31, pp. 23–30. doi 10.3233/ISU-2011-0626.
Jasemian, Y. (2011). Sensing of vital signs and transmission using wireless networks. In Clinical Technologies: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications. USA: IGI Global, pp. 717-743.
Weinberg, S. E, (2007). US Healthcare on Life Support: Resuscitating the Dying System. New Jersey: Denisher Press.