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Money is Mobile Health’s Biggest Obstacle

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, September 14, 2010

The current reimbursement model is one of the barriers to more rapid adoption of mobile health: in-person consultation is still the main basis of reimbursement in healthcare, says PricewaterhouseCoopers. "Public payers and private health insurers, who are primarily responsible for paying for healthcare, have generally not pushed for adoption of mobile health."

This is beginning to change, as a small but growing number of health plans pay for remote monitoring devices to help reduce hospital readmission costs. According to the survey, physicians were most often reimbursed for phone consultations for chronic disease management. But wellness and maintenance—for which smart phone apps are well-suited—is still the least reimbursed.

Payers want to see evidence, says Roy Swackhamer, chief information officer of SCAN Health Plan. "Everyone is doing pilots, but it needs to be scaled so a physician with 500 congestive heart failure patients can take advantage of the data. We need predictive algorithms that can be used with data aggregation tools in order to analyze trends and perform predictive analysis."

Until that data-driven evidence comes in, physicians in the survey listed a number of benefits to mobile healthcare for payers, patients, physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations. Among them:

  • Of those physicians who are using mobile devices in their practice, 56% said the devices expedite decision making and nearly 40% said the use of mobile devices decreases time spent on administration. 
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