Cost, Value and Regulatory Top Docs’ Issues With Mobile Health

FierceMobileHealthcare

April 24, 2014

Most doctors realize the benefits of mobile healthcare (mHealth) technology but aren't going to jump on the bandwagon quickly unless there is compelling evidence the technology will save time and money as well as provide actual return-on-investment, according to a report from MedData Group.

Survey data from 532 physicians collected in December 2013 through March 2014 of this year found two-thirds of physicians using mobile applications have adopted the technology as a way to cut costs and increase efficiency. Second-tier reasons include improving care quality and responding to patient demands.

The report, which polled doctors on why they are or are not using mHealth technologies reveals that while many are embracing mobile tools, some fear such connected technology will allow, for example, according to some docs, "the federal government to take over healthcare." One physician was quoted as saying "there is no real benefit."

The report arrives as mHealth vendors are developing a slew of new tools from apps that go to innovations that turn smartphones into new medical care devices. At the same time federal agencies, lawmakers and healthcare industry groups are hashing out a new oversight framework on the emerging technologies and determining which products and services should require federal approval and which are allowed into market without any regulatory involvement.

The survey states the medical profession, due to the prior tech challenges with electronic health records and government changes with federal health programs, are distrustful of systemic change.

"Many physicians have come to feel displaced by outside powers whose interests are often at odds with theirs," the report's authors write.

However, medical professionals are pretty tech-savvy, the report finds, with two thirds using some form of mobile app during their workday, and many indicate a willingness to adopt mobile tech within the next 12 months. The top four mHealth initiatives that interest doctors are secure texting, patient portals, medical devices and diagnosis and mobile EHR access. Nearly half of those polled are currently using an app for mobile medication-interaction information needs.

While doctors cite cost as the top challenge for a fully-connected healthcare environment, physicians are skeptical that mobile tech will meet legal requirements for patient privacy and that colleagues are onboard to embrace such tools.

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