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The Promise of mHealth

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, September 13, 2012
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This article appears in the September 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Ever since the first experiments with telemedicine, providers have been taking steps to move healthcare closer to where patients live and work. Now, mobile technology—epitomized by the millions of such apps already downloaded to smartphones, but also appearing in nearly unlimited form factors—is accelerating those steps.

At Boston's Partners HealthCare, a system with 2,700 licensed beds, 45 employees scrutinize these developments at the Center for Connected Health. One early effort to equip cardiac patients with remote monitoring technology resulted in a 50% drop in readmissions, says Joseph Kvedar, MD, founder and director of the center.

"We're all committed to a healthcare delivery model that moves care out of the hospital, out of the office, and directly and continuously into the lives of patients," Kvedar says. "We find that the best technologies to facilitate that vision are monitoring and communications technologies properly applied."

Kvedar says his team sees "two reproducible value propositions over and over again" regarding mHealth. One is improved patient self-care. "That to me is the most exciting one, that we can arm patients with data about themselves in context, and they manage it not dissimilar to the way a baseball manager manages a lineup of batting averages. They can see what they're hitting and if they need to improve something. They can do that and watch their numbers change. It's very, very powerful."

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