Quality-driven healthcare system a boon for use of remote, mobile tools

This week I had the chance to speak about mHealth with Spyglass Managing Director Gregg Malkary, and during the discussion I noticed a trend: optimism of what's to come for mobile technology in healthcare.

Many times those involved in mHealth have a tendency to forget not every consumer is entrenched in use and analysis of the devices. In fact, many people are not yet thinking about mHealth in their day-to-day lives. 

But as Malkary told me, a push forward on mHealth is necessary, as those with high-risk chronic conditions, who represent 20 percent of the patient population, are responsible for 80 percent of total healthcare costs. Mobile healthcare tools, from apps to remote patient monitoring (RPM), can make a huge dent in lowering those costs.

The latest news on RPM, which we report on in this week's FierceMobileHealthcare, is especially encouraging. While most current adopters responding to Spyglass' most recent survey are big accountable care organizations, 77 percent said they are evaluating various at-risk payment and RPM care delivery models for chronically ill patient populations. In addition, nearly all providers polled have population health initiatives in progress, even though they're still struggling to figure out how to define their strategy with mobile tools and systems.

Malkary also believes that many chronically ill currently are downloading one or more health apps to their own smartphones and tablets.

It's not hard to believe mHealth's future will get on a fast track within just a few years. Malkary said he expects RPM will be a standard practice of care by 2020 at the latest, and maybe even as early as 2018.

"The writing is on the wall that health systems, under fee-for-performance, will be required to track key quality metrics about patients when they are outside the four walls of a healthcare setting," he said.

That's tremendous for all those immersed in mHealth, from patients in need of consistent care to payers and providers grappling with the task of driving enhanced care at a lower price point. - Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)