Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Improving Health Care through Mobile Medical Devices and Sensors

From the 22 October 2013 Brookings Report

Health care access, affordability, and quality are problems all around the world and large numbers of individuals do not receive the quality care that they need. Mobile technology offers ways to help with these challenges. Through mobile health applications, sensors, medical devices, and remote patient monitoring products, there are avenues through which health care delivery can be improved. These technologies can help lower costs by facilitating the delivery of care, and connecting people to their health care providers. Applications allow both patients and providers to have access to reference materials, lab tests, and medical records using mobile devices.

Complex mobile health applications help in areas such as training for health care workers, the management of chronic disease, and monitoring of critical health indicators. They enable easy to use access to tools like calorie counters, prescription reminders, appointment notices, medical references, and physician or hospital locators. These applications empower patients and health providers proactively to address medical conditions, through near real-time monitoring and treatment, no matter the location of the patient or health provider.

In this paper, part of the Mobile Economy Project, Darrell West looks at specific applications and inventions, and discuss how mobile is transforming health care in the United States and around the world. He argues that mobile health helps frontline health workers and health care providers extend their reach and interactions – enabling them to be more efficient and effective in their provision of medical assistance. And in the conclusion, West recommends several steps that will speed the adoption of mobile technology in health care.

  • Policymakers should encourage the use of mobile devices for health care. Moving to electronic systems for service delivery will save money, improve access, and provide higher levels of quality in both developed and developing nations.
  • Nearly three-quarters of medical expenditures takes place on a small number of chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and asthma. We should encourage the use of mobile systems that monitor patient symptoms and provide real-time advice on treatment and medication because they have the potential to control costs, reduce errors, and improve patients’ experiences.
  • We should work to remove barriers to adoption of mobile applications that aid in chronic disease management and make these tools much more widely available.
  • With growing knowledge about diseases, genetics, and pharmaceutical products, the practice of medicine has become far more complicated. Health providers need access to as much accurate data as they can get on how to treat various ailments.
  • One of the barriers to cost containment and quality service delivery has been the continued reliance in many locales on paper-based medical systems. In a digital world, one cannot imagine a costlier way to run a health care system.
  • On the issue of government regulation, the FDA has finalized its guidance on how mobile applications and regulated mobile medical devices are to be treated in an effort to clarify some of the ambiguities and help further innovation. Having clear rules that encourage desirable behavior is the best way to move forward in mobile health.

Editor’s Note: This paper is released in tandem with the panel discussion: The Modernization of Health Care through Mobile Technology and Medical Monitoring Devices on October 22, 2013.

 

October 23, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Population Health Implications of the Affordable Care Act: Workshop Summary (2013)

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 5.33.25 AM

From the 16 October 2013 summary at Full Text Reports

Source: Institute of Medicine

Population Health Implications of the Affordable Care Act is the summary of a workshop convened in June 2013 by the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Population Health Improvement to explore the likely impact on population health improvement of various provisions within the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This public workshop featured presentations and discussion of the impact of various provisions in the ACA on population health improvement.

Several provisions of the ACA offer an unprecedented opportunity to shift the focus of health experts, policy makers, and the public beyond health care delivery to the broader array of factors that play a role in shaping health outcomes. The shift includes a growing recognition that the health care delivery system is responsible for only a modest proportion of what makes and keeps Americans healthy and that health care providers and organizations could accept and embrace a richer role in communities, working in partnership with public health agencies, community-based organizations, schools, businesses, and many others to identify and solve the thorny problems that contribute to poor health.

Population Health Implications of the Affordable Care Act looks beyond narrow interpretations of population as the group of patients covered by a health plan to consider a more expansive understanding of population, one focused on the distribution of health outcomes across all individuals living within a certain set of geopolitical boundaries. In establishing the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, creating a fund for prevention and public health, and requiring nonprofit hospitals to transform their concept of community benefit, the ACA has expanded the arena for interventions to improve health beyond the “doctor’s” office. Improving the health of the population – whether in a community or in the nation as a whole – requires acting to transform the places where people live, work, study, and play. This report examines the population health-oriented efforts of and interactions among public health agencies (state and local), communities, and health care delivery organizations that are beginning to facilitate such action.

 

October 18, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rational Rationing vs. Irrational Rationing

 

English: This image depicts the total health c...

English: This image depicts the total health care services expenditure per capita, in U.S. dollars PPP-adjusted, for the nations of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States with the years 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2007 compared. An ‘OECD Health Data 2010′ report is used for the information, which is available here. Note that there is additional information in this list. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Rational Rationing vs. Irrational Rationing By DAVID KATZ, MD in the 13 September 2012 article at The Health Care Blog

Excerpts

n a system of universal, or nearly universal health insurance such as in Massachusetts, decisions about what benefits to include for whom are decisions about the equitable distribution of a limited resource. If that is rationing, then we need to overcome our fear of the word so we can do it rationally. By design or happenstance, every limited resource is rationed. Design is better.

In the U.S. health care system, some can afford to get any procedure at any hospital, others need to take what they can get. Some doctors provide concierge service, and charge a premium for it. Any “you can have it if you can afford it” system imposes rationing, with socioeconomic status the filter. It is the inevitable, default filter in a capitalist society where you tend to get what you pay for.

That works pretty well for most commodities, but not so well for health care. As noted, failure to spend money you don’t have on early and preventive care may mean later expenditures that are both much larger, and no longer optional — and someone else winds up paying. If you can’t afford a car, you don’t get one; if you can’t afford care for a bullet wound — if you can’t afford CPR — you get it anyway, and worries about who pays the bill come later.

But those costs, and worries, do come later — and somewhere in the system, we pay for them.

By favoring acute care — which can’t be denied — our current system of rationing dries up the resources that might otherwise be used for both clinical preventive services and true health promotion. Fully 80 percent of all chronic disease could be eliminated if our society really rallied around effective strategies for tobacco avoidance, healthful eating, and routine physical activity for all. But when health care spending on the diseases that have already happened is running up the national debt, where are those investments to come from? The answer is, they tend not to come at all. And that’s rationing: not spending on one thing, because you have spent on another.

Nor is this limited to health care. The higher the national expenditure on health-related costs, the fewer dollars there are for other priorities, from defense, to education, to the maintenance of infrastructure. If cutting back on defense calls the patriotism of Congress into question, then classrooms get crowded and kids are left to crumble. Apparently, it is no threat to patriotism to threaten the educational status of America’s future. …

 

 

 

 

September 14, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Infographic: Where money is spent in health care vs. what makes us healthy

Janice Flahiff:

While I’m not sure if there is a one-to-one relationship between money spent on health care and what will result in healthier individuals…still this is a real eye-opener.

Originally posted on Between The Charts:

Read full report by BPC here

Read full article here

Via WONK blog by @ezraklein

View original

June 11, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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