Re-bundling Healthcare: How Technology is Changing a $3 Trillion Industry

For the first time in American history, health care providers are governmentally incentivized to keep their local populations healthy. Traditionally, more people in need of a hospital meant more revenue for hospitals. This has all changed because of the government’s new reimbursement legislation regarding “Population Health Management.” According to the Institute for Health Technology Transformation, “This program… will penalize hospitals for avoidable readmissions and base a portion of their reimbursement on quality measures.” In response, health care providers have formed “Accountable Care Organizations” (ACOs). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services tell us that the purpose of ACOs “is to ensure that patients get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors.”

Airbnb transformed the hotel business by connecting those who need rooms with those who have rooms, reducing costs for consumers and creating their own private marketplace. Amazon fixed the shelf-space problem that every retailer faces by creating an online marketplace for book shoppers to search through the largest book catalog available. Blogs and online news sources crippled the traditional news publishing industry by giving away news for clicks instead of cash. What is going to happen to health care? Chances are it will have something to do with that omnipresent device: the smart phone.

AlivCor changed HIPAA constraints for how personal health data can be used on mobile devices. Their new, FDA-approved ECG monitor device tells you and your doctor how your heart is doing. So far it has been savings lives and helping to prevent illnesses from occurring in the first place.

AlivCor isn’t the only big player in “mobile medicine.” Kaiser Permanente reported that users of their Healthy Lifestyle app are losing weight (56% of them) and quitting smoking (58% of them). This app is so successful that people who use it are twice as likely to quit smoking as their peers.

Tech giants Apple and our partner, Microsoft, have also hopped on the mobile medicine wagon. They are offering consumers and developers HIPAA-compliant health data aggregation applications and APIs for apps to be built for their devices. Apple conveniently jumped on board the moment HIPAA laws were changed to allow for this type of data aggregation to happen. Seems awfully convenient, doesn’t it?

What does this mean for health care providers? They have the ability to maximize their effectiveness (and therefore their reimbursements) by developing solutions like AlivCor’s and KP’s. They can be with their patients all the time, monitoring their well being and improving their quality of living. With HIPAA laws changing, software companies designing new ways to monitor personal health, and the government incentivizing health care providers to keep people healthy, there has never been a better time to develop new “mobile medicine” solutions for the good of the human condition and the good of the health care providers revenue.