Deloitte Report Finds Major Role for Mobile Devices in Health Care

A Deloitte report finds that the combination of mobile devices and electronic health records is a "killer app" with significant benefits for patients.

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions has released a report showing how mobile technology can improve people's health and reduce health-care costs.

The company describes electronic medical records on mobile devices as the "killer app" that will affect the health care industry.

"The personal health record embedded in mobile communication devices - mPHR - is the 'killer app' that may change the game for providers, consumers and payers," said Paul Keckley, Ph.D., executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, in a statement. "Considering that treating chronic disease accounts for more than 70 percent ($1.7 trillion) of the total $2.4 trillion in health care spending in the United States, the business case for mPHRs is solid for helping to reduce costs for managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity."

According to the Deloitte survey results, 50 percent of consumers would want a device to monitor their medical condition and guide them on how to improve. In addition, about six out of 10 consumers (57 percent) were interested in accessing EMRs online while connected to their doctor's office.

Deloitte also reported that those in Generation X and Y were twice as willing as baby boomers and senior citizens to maintain EMRs and use MCDs (mobile communication devices).

The Deloitte report explains how diabetic and hypertensive patients at the Cleveland Clinic who used smartphones to send medical data to their EMR reduced their visits to the doctor's office. In addition, Kaiser Permanente researchers in Colorado found that 58 percent of hypertension patients using mPHRs (personal health records combined with a mobile device) lowered their blood pressure to acceptable levels within six months, compared with 38 percent who didn't use mPHRs.

Deloitte expects that mPHRs will be particularly useful in dealing with obesity, elder care and asthma.

Patients can use mobile phones and tablets to enter medical information and transmit the data to their medical facility where it gets entered into an EMR.

According to Deloitte, an mPHR can analyze data and send reminders on bill payments and when to take medication.

Telehealth is poised to grow despite mixed opinions among industry experts. On Aug. 17 California launched the nation's largest telehealth network targeting patients in rural and underserved areas.

Veterans can also benefit from telehealth, particularly in rural areas, as noted by lawmakers, military officials and health care IT experts at a June 24 House Veterans Affairs Health Subcommittee hearing.