Brookings researcher envisions mobile-centric health system

What if the entire healthcare system were mobile? Sure, there would still be hospitals and doctor's offices, but they wouldn't be the center of care. Instead, patients would monitor their own weight, blood pressure and other vitals, conduct their own tests with the help of home-based and portable medical devices, linked to the Internet and cell phones. All the data would flow to and from electronic medical records, and patients would get reminders by email or text message when readings stray from the normal range or if they aren't taking their medicine. They'd communicate with doctors and nurses by phone or Internet and only have to visit a healthcare facility if there's a serious problem.

This is the vision spelled out in a new Brookings Institution report on "customer-driven medicine." Getting to this sort of coordinated m-health system, according to author Darrell M. West, would require some major public policy changes--some more achievable than others. Public and private insurers would need to reimburse providers for preventive care, electronic communications with patients and remote monitoring. There would have to be outcomes-based payments as well. On the consumer side, West calls for incentives to live healthy lifestyles, including a Preventive Medicine Fund to pay for gym memberships, home exercise gear, flu shots, smoking cessation treatment and other programs that could help keep people healthier.

For more information:
- download the "Customer-Driven Medicine: How to Create a New Health Care System" report