As we enter a new era of mobile healthcare innovation, the potential benefits for the United States as a whole are quickly becoming clear. We live in a country that has the greatest economy on earth, the greatest military ever created and the greatest track record for ingenuity ever recorded. Despite all of these wins, we are fundamentally failing our implied promise to provide proper healthcare to our citizens. The recent evolution of mHealth technology has the potential to be the turning point that enables our country to finally meet the needs of its people despite barriers created by geography, socio-economic status or physical condition.
By definition, mHealth Technology has the ability to deliver a wide variety of healthcare services to people who previously had difficulty seeking, obtaining or following up on healthcare related matters. Healthcare treatments have historically been defined by the patient traveling to see the practitioner, either a single time, or more often than not, on a repeated basis. This provides a huge barrier to treatment for those who live in rural areas or don’t have access to reliable transportation. mHealth Technology won’t take the place of every patient visit, but more often than not it can reduce the number of visits required while increasing the quality of the care provided.
mHealth Technology also increases the accessibility of healthcare services by bringing the costs to a level that makes them attainable to lower socio-economic groups. Cost of treatment is often a barrier to these individuals, so as mHealth begins to lower the cost of treatment for the healthcare system overall, we may begin to see the savings being passed along to the consumer with a resulting increase in frequency of care. Additionally, mHealth technology has the potential to increase the effectiveness of preventative care. Because these groups are historically more susceptible to preventable conditions such as obesity, diabetes and smoking related illnesses, preventative measures using mHealth technology have the ability to make an especially large impact on this portion of the population.
Additionally, the very nature of many medical conditions can limit the mobility of the patient, resulting in less frequent patient visits which can result in an even further decline in their condition. mHealth technology helps to bring assistance into the patient’s home or recovery center, increasing both the quality and quantity of care and eliminating this cycle.
Each of these benefits is important to both the patient and the provider. However, the most important impact that mHealth technology will have on the United States is the ability for our current infrastructure to increase patient care efficiency and capacity while decreasing overall costs. As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age and our Social Security system reaches its breaking point, efficiencies gained through advances in technology are the only way to ensure that our current system will be able to meet the challenge. Taking care of each other is at the core of our value structure in the United States and our ability to do so affects each and every one of us.
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