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California launched the nation’s largest telehealth system in mid-August (called the California Telehealth Network or CTN), which connects clinics and hospitals to one another via broadband to facilitate consultations and specialty care. Shortly after CTN’s release, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions issued a brief discussing the cost-savings that could be achieved through the convergence of personal health records and mobile communication devices.

The brief explores the potential benefits of mobile communications in collecting environmental and patient-entered information and transmitting that via the Internet to a personal health record. Devices such as smart phones, cell phones, tablets and similar portable, Internet-capable devices could be combined with actionable decision support in what’s called mPHR (mobile personal health record). This would allow analysis of aggregate data to give mobile, patient-specific output like reminders, healthy habit tips, and even billing alerts.

Paul Keckley, PhD, the executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, says that ìthe personal health record embedded in mobile communication devices mPHR is the ‘killer app’ that may change the game for providers, consumers and payers [insurers].î

Dr. Keckley points out that treating chronic disease accounts for more than 70% (or $1.7 trillion) of the total $2.4 trillion in health care spending in the U.S. Much of that comes from in-office visits and outpatient care, which could be reduced significantly with patient-empowering, mobile health care monitoring ñ especially with chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

According to the 2010 Deloitte Survey of Health Care Consumers, the current market for patient-enabled health care monitoring and interaction is growing quickly. Over 50% of consumers want a personal monitoring device to alert and guide them towards making improvements in health or treating a specific conditions while 6 of 10 consumers want access to an online personal health record connected to their doctor’s office.

MedeFile, of course, is one of the leading technologies in this field. We agree with the final points made in the Deloitte brief, which outlines the four primary barriers to widespread adoption of electronic personal health records and mPHR. We also see that those barriers are being removed, slowly, and the acceleration towards more widespread adoption of this technology.

One barrier is that of a standardized technical communications medium for electronic health records, which is changing rapidly as insurance companies and health care providers have been coming together in recent years to facilitate easier communication. This has lead to standards of health record keeping in electronic format, which are now becoming more widely adopted.

Consumer adoption is a barrier that is fast melting, as the 2010 survey cited above indicates. While only about 10% of American adults currently use an electronic PHR, that is growing quickly.

Finally, concerns about consumer privacy and security are always going to be at the forefront of these technologies. And rightly so. These are being addressed through encryption and protection technologies which have been in place for financial and other services for more than a decade and which, when combined with the requirements of the federal government (HIPAA), provide for maximum security while maintaining ease of access for those authorized.

As the technology moves forward, the next few years will see a more enabled patient entering a doctor’s office less often, but communicating with health care providers more and with better understanding. This will lead to better treatment at lower cost. MedeFile is proud to be at the forefront of this new frontier in medicine.

  • By Kevin Hauser Submitted on September 10th, 2010

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