Can mHealth Eliminate Geographical Inequalities in Healthcare?


It is an indisputable fact that healthcare is extremely variable in volume and cost on a geographical basis. One need only look at the map below from a 2008 government study. The darkest areas represents Medicare spending per beneficiary range from $5200-13,900. (http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/89xx/doc8972/02-15-GeogHealth.pdf).

Reasons for this variation have been studied and range from disagreement about appropriateness of treatments, geographical distribution of physicians, physician financial incentives. Medical tourism (even within the USA) is testimony to this phenomenon.

Can a wireless app which takes into consideration the patient’s clinical indication for a test, evidence-based guidelines, ethnic and genetic factors, a registry of physician-owned testing facilities, and perhaps insurance coverage determine the need for a test and where the most appropriate place to have it done? This variation is as old as medical care itself. Patients and caregivers need this kind of help in participating in medical decisions. The app is no substitute for a provider’s thinking process, but may be more objective and adds a different perspective that sometimes is a black box to the patient.

There are enough inequities which exist in the healthcare system. Being at a disadvantage just because you live and work in a given town or city should not be the determinant of the access or cost of care. This observation is ripe for assessing the effects of wireless technologies. Starting with telehealth, the obvious one, and progressing to others, let us evaluate this with impact studies.

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About davidleescher

David Lee Scher, MD is Founder and Director at DLS HEALTHCARE CONSULTING, LLC, which specializes in advising digital health technology companies, their partners, investors, and clients. As a cardiac electrophysiologist and pioneer adopter of remote patient monitoring, he understood early on the challenges that the culture and landscape of healthcare present to the development and adoption of digital technologies. He is a well-respected thought leader in mobile and other digital health technologies. Scher lectures worldwide on relevant industry topics including the role of tech in Pharma, patient advocacy, standards for development and adoption, and impact on patients and healthcare systems from clinical, risk management, operational and marketing standpoints. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine.
This entry was posted in healthcare economics, Healthcare IT, informatics, mHealth, mobile health, telehealth, wireless health and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Can mHealth Eliminate Geographical Inequalities in Healthcare?

  1. Pingback: Adoption of mHealth Technologies: UK vs USA | The Digital Health Corner

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