The New Economics of Mobile Health

By Kevin Lasser, CEO, JEMS Technology, and Marshall Busko, Senior Director, Information Technology Solutions, Intalere

Mobile Health White PaperThe idea of mobile health has been with us since the 1960s and 1970s when NASA began to monitor astronauts’ biometrics remotely and the federal government provided funding for seven telemedicine research and development projects. But, recently, its popularity is increasing rapidly, with 73 percent of healthcare providers already using mobile health for services like patient engagement, telemedicine and e-prescribing, according to research.

As the transition to value-based care continues, and the “teeth” and penalties of new government rules and mandates take hold, healthcare facilities, both big and small, are beginning to realize the value of even the simplest mobile health applications, particularly in terms of new revenue and cost avoidance, especially in the case of readmissions.

This is especially true for rural healthcare facilities. One example of a facility that has seen firsthand the positive effects of a mobile health program is Intalere member Montfort Jones Memorial Hospital (MJMH), a critical access hospital licensed for 25 beds, located in Kosciusko, Miss.

The program that MJMH implemented, which included a strong mobile health component, was able to improve quality of care for patients by improving door to CT interpretation times, reducing door to needle times by 40 percent and increasing utilization of thrombolytic therapy by 200 percent. From a financial standpoint, MJMH received increased revenue from the treatment of acute stroke patients and administering thrombolytic therapy, based on the fact that hospitals administering thrombolytic therapy receive a larger portion of DRG payments. Cost reductions were appreciated through having access to a neurologist 24/7 without paying a large fee for salary wages versus a low monthly fee for mobile health.

Another point helping to drive adoption of mobile health in rural facilities is the creation in 2012 of the Healthcare Connect Fund. The fund provides support for high-capacity broadband connectivity to eligible healthcare providers (HCPs) and encourages the formation of state and regional broadband HCP networks. Under the program, eligible rural HCPs, and those non-rural HCPs that are members of a group that has more than 50 percent rural HCP sites, will be able to receive a 65 percent discount on all eligible expenses, which include broadband services and equipment, and HCP-constructed and owned network facilities. (FCC.gov HCF Fact Sheet)

Healthcare facilities must continue to develop new paths to care that improve outcomes while also reducing costs. The inclusion of mobile health solutions in care plans going forward offers providers some of the best opportunities, not only for cost avoidance, but also to realize new avenues to revenue generation. To learn more about several ways that providers are doing just that, check out our new mobile health white paper.

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