Health Care Providers Tapping Mobile Health Tools To Reduce Costs

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Health care providers are using mobile health technologies to monitor patients and reduce costs, the New York Times reports.

The mobile health field features the use of technologies to educate, monitor and treat patients. Devices such as wireless sensors, temporary tattoos and other electronic tools could allow physicians to monitor patients from any location.

Cost-Savings Potential

Monitoring patients at home could significantly curb health care costs, according to the Times.

For example, a 2008 Department of Veterans Affairs study that focused on the use of telehealth tools for patients with serious conditions, including congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, found that patients who used at-home biometric monitoring devices had a 19% drop in hospitalizations compared with when they were not participating in the program.

In the study, the average cost of patient care was $1,600 annually, compared with the $13,121 the department spends to provide home-based primary care without the mobile health devices.

Prototype Devices in Testing

Meanwhile, researchers have been developing a number of mobile health tools.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed an ultrathin tattoo device that weighs only three-thousandths of an ounce.

In addition, FDA last year approved a telemetry system that uses a two-inch by six-inch monitoring patch that transmits electrocardiogram readings to a central data center.

More Incentives Needed?

Chuck Parker, the executive director of Continua Health Alliance, said only 50,000 to 70,000 U.S. patients currently are being monitored by mobile health devices.

He noted that additional financial incentives might encourage more hospitals to adopt the technologies (Stross, New York Times, 9/3).


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