ACA presents golden opportunity for wireless, mobile health

By: Neil Versel | Jul 5, 2012        

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Neil_Versel_LargeThe Supreme Court’s decision to uphold most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act certainly was stunning. Who really expected Chief Justice John Roberts to side with the liberal wing of the court? How many people thought that the reasoning would be that the individual mandate was a legal exercise of Congress’ power to levy taxes?

Similarly, the decision was polarizing. Plenty of President Obama’s supporters narrow-mindedly thought that the ruling assures that millions of currently uninsured Americans would now be guaranteed access to good healthcare. A lot of wacko detractors claimed that the Supreme Court killed freedom and set the United States upon a path to fulfill Comrade Obama’s supposed desire to turn this nation into the Soviet Union.

Neither, of course, is true. The best insurance coverage in the world doesn’t assure quality care, and the insurance expansion really is just throwing more money at a broken system. By the same token, the ACA leaves the long-established private insurance system in place for Americans of working age. This isn’t a government takeover, nor is it a silver bullet.

But it is a starting point for reform and a plea for disruptive innovation. You wouldn’t know that if you only paid attention to the national media, which have been fixated on insurance coverage, not care improvement and efficiency gains. But since you’re reading MobiHealthNews, you do know that healthcare is a lot more than just insurance. You know that the Affordable Care Act, certainly a flawed piece of legislation, contains real elements of care reform, not just insurance reform.

The ACA created the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation within CMS and appropriated $10 billion to this innovation center. More importantly, this provision gives CMS the authority to ramp up pilot programs that prove successful at saving money or producing better patient outcomes. In the past, CMS would have to go back to Congress to expand successful “demonstrations,” a process that could take years. This should be great news for the many m-health innovators who have come up with low-cost, easy-to-implement ways to improve healthcare.

Likewise, mobile health will have an important role to play in Accountable Care Organizations, another key aspect of the ACA that is hard to explain to the masses in a catchy soundbite. The shift to bundled payments that ACOs herald, coupled with Medicare’s new policy of not reimbursing for certain preventable hospital readmissions within 30 days of discharge, puts the onus on providers to coordinate care and manage patients outside traditional settings.

That sounds like a golden opportunity for wireless monitoring and patient-provider communications. So get to work. Real health reform is just starting, and mobile technologies are well-positioned to shake the establishment that has stood in the way of improvements for far too long.

  • Sane

    Wow now this is a one sided liberal post. The decision was not some ground breaking wonder. It simply said it’s a tax and taxation is legal. Certainly the healthcare system is broken. This law just continues to allow big money insurers to screw people in it’s efforts to appease their thirsty shareholders.

    The projected cost of this law in an increasing socialist societal lean is not sustainable. You do understand that the tax base is shrinking and crazy spending is causing the biggest cost increases in history don’t you?


  • Neil Versel

    You didn’t even read the commentary, did you?

  • Neil Versel

    You also defeat your own argument by saying: “This law just continues to allow big money insurers to screw people in it’s [sic] efforts to appease their thirsty shareholders.” How exactly does that make something socialist?

  • Sane

    The comments are two fold.

    1. If insurers are not reformed the system will fail.

    2. If there is not enough revenue to pay for the act it will fail.

    It’s not to late to do something about 1. As far as 2 goes it’s a fact. The numbers are in and there is not enough revenue in the forecast to pay for it.

    Furthermore my comments are relative to the act and not the entire article, which seems pretty obvious. In the future a footnote will be added for those who wish to scrutinize and use the forum as a conflict zone.

    As far a socialism, how can anyone debate that we are not moving swiftly down that path?

     Margaret Thatcher:

    “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

  • Neil Versel

    I can debate that, but I don’t see any argument from you that sounds like we’re moving toward socialism. I already made the argument that the insurance expansion is throwing more money at the same problem.

    The ACA is meant to fit with HITECH, which will save money if done right. Portions of the ACA, notably ACOs, also are meant to save money. You are just throwing out anti-Obama talking points with no facts to back up anything you’re saying and little relevance to the article you’re commenting on. Let’s get past partisanship and focus on fixing a broken system that, among other things, caused my dad to suffer needlessly during his last month of life.

  • Sane

    First of all I don’t know many informed individuals that are not anti Obama. Perhaps you are the first!

    Cost saving are going to accomplish what exactly? Throwing a thimble full of water on a forest fire will accomplish absolutely nothing. According to all respectable accounting, even with the projected savings, the act is grossly underfunded. Where’s the shortfall supposed to come from? I am certain the insurers will not redistribute their earnings? 49% or something close of average Americans paid ZERO taxes last and a good percentage received money back on other programs. The revenue base is shrinking.

    So you can’t save enough though efficiencies to make up the huge revenue gap. Sure we can borrow more from the Chinese I suppose. That seems to be someones solution to every problem.

    The act,although gallant, is short sighted and based on our own government accounting agencies flawed enough to be ineffective at all but “raising taxes” that will be painful for consumers and also a few trillion thimbles short of an effective solution.    

  • Neil Versel

    It’s an imperfect bill, to be sure, but what about it is socialist? You keep railing against the private insurers but haven’t offered a shred of evidence to bolster your weak argument, nor have you offered any alternative strategies.

  • Sane

     The bill is administered in large part by the government. Because of this government is bloating it’s ranks by thousands upon thousands. This wreaks of socialism. Once government hits a certain size the MT quote becomes reality. Efficient government is an oxymoron!!!!.

    My arguments are based on math and therefore close to indisputable based every economic projection that have been forecast.

    I think we all have ideas on alternate strategies. Many of which were dismissed while the bill was completed behind closed doors where only half of the country went unrepresented.

    Under the conditions that prevail in WA under this administration it’s inconceivable that even a proven system would have any hope in adoption either in part or whole. The government has just become to large and is truly a country unto itself.

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