DHSSslideBy Robin Raskin

The steady rise in health care costs and the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, combined with technologies including Internet access, smart phones, and body sensors have created an unparalleled moment in health care. The patient is seen through new eyes, as the enlightened consumer is able to choose from a portfolio of services and take control of their own conditions. Nowhere is the health liberation movement exemplified more than in the area of chronic disease management. Obesity, diabetes, pain, asthma – these overly common conditions are increasingly being monitored by the patients themselves using mobile devices instead of drugs or unnecessary office visits and hospital procedures.

Research studies, one after another, are indicating that patients who use tools to monitor their health conditions are in fact able to decrease the severity of their conditions and decrease the overall cost of their health care. On June 13 and 14 the Digital Health Summer Summit meets in San Diego to reflect on this and other rapidly changing paradigms in the health care industry.

Keynote speaker, Anand Iyer, PhD, MBA, a Type 2 diabetic himself, and a leader in mHealth systems, created WellDoc to help patients monitor a variety of chronic conditions. WellDoc developed a collection of consumer facing apps that tie in to other hardware devices that patients might use including blood glucose monitors or breath analyzers. Based on patient input with diabetics for instance, WellDoc generates tips and educational materials including diet management, medication management, and blood glucose feedback. On the backend the system is constantly monitoring the data and notifying physicians and practitioners about the patient’s status.

The outcomes of this approach have been extremely positive for both the patient and the practitioner says Iyer. “The practitioner is worried that they’ll be bombarded by data, but in fact they can control the dialogue they have with their patients, even when the patient is not in the office. A mobile phone with simple tools is showing a reduction in health costs and, for diabetics, markedly lower blood sugar.”

Another company, Humetrix, is showcasing an app called the iBlueButton that gives patients ownership of their health data. Bettina Experton, president and CEO, has created an app that allows patients to access all of their medical records online and download health summaries. “Consumers, says Experton, are in control of their records and have a secure way of pushing their records to the physician of the choice.”

Chronic diseases – diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and certain types of cancer – account for 75% of all health care spending nationally. That adds up to something like $1.5 trillion spent on drugs, devices, physician consultations, ER visits, and surgeries every year. As mobile devices enable a seamless way for patients to monitor and share their information in a safe and secure manner, those who are actively engaged in their health should be the beneficiaries.

To register for the Digital Health Summer Summit, click here.

Robin Raskin is an author, editor, magazine publisher, blogger, and founder of Living in Digital Times. An early champion of the digital lifestyle, Raskin has brought her perspective on technology to audiences around the world. In 2007, Raskin entered into a partnership with the Consumer Electronics Association to produce conferences and events focusing on lifestyle applications for emerging technologies.