Low-cost computing devices, digital sensors and greater use of the Internet are central to growing efforts to lower health care costs, the New York Times reports.
Shifting the responsibility of diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of diseases from hospitals and specialty clinics to primary care physicians and patients likely will lower health costs, according to the Times.
New treatment models emphasize early detection of health problems, prevention and improved management of chronic conditions.
David Lawrence, former CEO of Kaiser Permanente, said that "an array of technology-enabled consumer-based services constitute a new form of primary health care."
The Times uses a new device for diagnosing sleep apnea as an example of the emerging trend. Diagnosing the condition can cost patients and insurers up to $4,000 using current methods, but a new method utilizing a microprocessor and sensors costs between $250 and $450.
According to the Times, hurdles to greater use of such technology include convincing patients to embrace healthier lifestyles and persuading the government and insurance companies to reimburse at-home testing and monitoring devices (Lohr, New York Times, 5/21).