America is sick. At least a lot of it is. An alarming 45% of Americans suffer from some form of chronic illness, and about one-quarter of us are plagued by more than one condition. It seems the widely accepted solution is to throw money at the problem. The U.S. spends about $1.4 trillion on healthcare, which is more than any other industrialized nation, and about 75 per cent of that is devoted to those with chronic conditions. But smartphones and customized wireless health devices are proving there’s a better way toward dramatically improving healthcare in this country.
Wireless technology can empower each of us by providing round-the-clock information on the state of our health, also giving healthcare providers a holistic perspective of how we’re doing so that more informed decisions can be made that lead to healthier patients, reduced hospital stays, and lower costs.
Wireless Monitoring Saving Lives
See how “Care Beyond Walls and Wires,” a remote monitoring healthcare pilot project in northern Arizona, is keeping cardiac patients out of the hospital and helping them live healthier lives at home.
Projects such as Care Beyond Walls and Wires (featured in the video above) implemented through Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative, are designed to give patients and their caregivers more control over their own care by providing them with the necessary tools to monitor their health. Smartphone apps and unique mhealth devices can measure a wide range of indicators, from a patient’s blood pressure and blood oxygen levels, to heart rate and glucose levels. That same information is transmitted via cellular to healthcare providers sometimes hundreds of miles away. Nurses and doctors can monitor patients and if certain thresholds are exceeded, they can make quick decisions on patients’ care that can keep them at home and avoid unwanted, inconvenient, and costly trips to the hospital.
In fact, it’s estimated that if chronic patients agreed to remote monitoring, the savings would amount to more than $21 billion a year. That’s just one indicator of the great promise of mobile technology and healthcare. One of the leading advocates for the power of mhealth is Dr. Eric Topol, co-Founder of the West Wireless Health Institute, and he paints a fascinating picture of its potential in this recent interview on the NBC News program, Rock Center. Dr. Topol delivered a keynote address a few years ago at one of CTIA’s premier annual trade shows, and he continues to be passionate and persuasive disciple of the power of mobile.
The innovation in mhealth is incredibly fast-paced, and there are a few factors that can enable even greater growth. Cellular coverage is essential to providing these fantastic services to all Americans, so more expeditious tower siting policy is vital. Consumers would also benefit from fair wireless tax treatment. The current average monthly and tax fee rate is 17% of a consumers’ bill, more than double the average general sales tax. That exorbitant rate could discourage many wireless users, particularly those on low or fixed incomes, to use such a valuable resource. The final policy piece to consider is spectrum. It is the lifeblood of the wireless industry, and with consumer demand on an exponential arc, making more spectrum available for commercial use is just what the doctor’s ordered to pave the way for even greater advances in mhealth.
Watch more segments highlighting the benefits of wireless communication, on topics such as urban parking, environmental monitoring, smart water management and more.