Is Meaningful Use Slowing the Growth of mHealth?

mHealth is cool.

There are cool apps, cool gadgets, and a ton of random devices that can do just about anything you can think of, and a few things you would have never thought possible.  There are so many tools out there that could be an asset to people with any number of conditions if only they knew about them, and their hospitals used them.

So why aren’t more people using these amazing devices, and why aren’t hospitals adopting them more rapidly?  If you take a look at EHR/EMR adoption it is not that difficult to see why.

Believe it or not, the very first electronic medical records were created in the 60’s.  Obviously, computers were not widely accessible at the time, so it was not until much later that they became practical on a large-scale, but the point is that the idea existed more than 50 years ago.

Numerous hospitals developed their own versions of digital medical records, but there was really no widespread adoption until meaningful use incentives were offered.  In what is a surprise to no one, doctors in hospitals big and small immediately started to implement EHR/EMRs so that they could get some free money.

Now that is all many doctors are interested in doing to further their practice because they want the money, and also to avoid penalties for not doing so.  There is very little incentive for them to do anything in the area of mHealth so they don’t.

Unfortunately, I think many doctors will never appreciate the value of mHealth until they are forced to do so by the government, or given some large financial incentive.  This lack of implementation by doctors will also directly influence the number of quality offerings from developers.

I realize that doctors are working in an environment where they must be very selective with where they spend their money.  With the rising costs of insurance in all of its many forms, doctors have to do what is best for them and their practice which means that mHealth may just have to be put on the back burner for the time being.

Hopefully, doctors will start to see the value of these technologies all by themselves, but based upon past history I would venture to guess that it will take free money, or the threat of penalties, to make widespread adoption a reality.

What impact, if any, do you think meaningful use is having on mHealth?

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David Lynn

David Lynn

1 Comment

  • David, in my opinion the answer is clear. MU and its confusing maze of requirements require every ounce of doctors’ energy and attention in order to ensure compliance. We simply don’t have time for anything else.

    When MU came along our practice already had a mature EMR install. And it STILL took us 6 months of research and gap analysis before we could implement. The regs are intimidating and confusing, and many of the resources are self-contradicting. I can”t imagine doing it if we had been struggling with the EMR itself.

    Meaningful Use is BAD for the HIT industry. It has sucked all the oxygen out of the room where innovation once took place. Now all anyone in the EMR field cares about is MU. And all docs have time for is MU. We have no resources left to even think about mHealth.

    All the money in the world for mHealth incentives won’t help. We are already past our limit.

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