Why presidential hopefuls shouldn't ignore mHealth

As the 2016 presidential race gets underway, healthcare, no doubt, is a pressing issue, with Republicans and Democrats arguing over the necessity and feasibility of the Affordable Care Act.

However, health technology--and in particular, mobile healthcare--hardly registers as a blip on the radar screen, at least when it comes to the national spotlight.

Perhaps, however, that should change.

There isn't one lawmaker who doesn't realize the rising cost of healthcare is not only detrimental to citizens, but to providers and payers, as well.

While mobile technology is no panacea for such costs, its ability to improve patient outcomes must not be overlooked. 

For instance, according to a recent viewpoint published in the journal Circulation, researchers on behalf of the American Heart Association say that the ability to use apps, mobile devices and real-time data sharing boasts the potential to overcome limitations challenging caregivers if given support by providers, especially in the realm of treating cardiovascular disease and its risk factors.

What's more, an in-depth analysis of research studies published in May by the Mayo Clinic found that smartphone apps, text messaging and other digital technologies can decrease recurrence of cardiovascular illness and help those with cardiovascular disease have a healthier life.

Similarly, research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in February found that mobile tools, such as text messaging, can help boost adherence in global chronic disease management, which can lead to improved health and more cost-effective care.

Better data sharing and improved medication adherence, particularly with regard to the most at-risk populations--patients with chronic conditions--are critical factors to boosting the quality of care. And with better quality and more preventive care comes lower costs.

The White House and the Department of Defense realize the implications, as evidenced by the announcement last month that DoD will provide $75 million as part of an effort to spur flexible hybrid electronics development by a consortium featuring Apple, Lockheed Martin, top research institutions and universities including MIT and Stanford. The award, which is part of the Obama administration's National Network for Manufacturing Innovation program, boasts the potential to spur development of improved medical health monitoring technologies.

The initiative is the ultimate illustration of how public and private sectors can work together, and is too important to get pushed to the side, or possibly de-funded under a new administration and lost in the shuffle of a new national leader.

No matter who takes the oath of office come January 2017, mHealth should be a critical focal point of their national healthcare policy efforts. While the future of 'Obamacare' remains a potential legal battlefield--and a topic that makes for good sound bites--no one can dispute the importance of mHealth technology to the future of care efforts. - Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)