mHealth masters: Promise of continuous trend data

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

Brett Jakovac is the senior vice president and managing director of Government Healthcare Solutions for Xerox.

He has spent more than 20 years with Xerox, managing Medicaid MMIS operations and development and large-scale Medicaid technology projects.

Q. What's the one promise of mHealth that will drive the most adoption over the coming year?

A. Improved access to care. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, since the passage of the Affordable Care Act five years ago, more than 16 million uninsured people have gained health coverage. But there is a significant shortage of primary care physicians available to see and treat these newly covered citizens. mHealth provides enormous potential for improving and encouraging self-directed care and accessing care at the most appropriate time. It can also help to increase access to services and encourage better self-directed care with harder-to-reach populations in rural areas and in poorer populations. 

Q. What mHealth technology will become ubiquitous in the next 5 years? Why?

A. Use of the smartphone by patients and clinicians to access services, health data and information. Smartphone penetration has increased over the last four years by 96.7 percent overall. Within low-income communities (households with income less than $30,000), smartphone use has skyrocketed from 22 percent in 2011 to 50 percent in 2015. In addition, nearly 50 percent of physicians use mobile health apps on a daily basis. It is the platform that has become the common denominator.

Q. What's the most cutting-edge application you're seeing now? What other innovations might we see in the near future?

A. The integration of devices to track multiple data points combined in an app that uses gamification (including behavioral motivation techniques) and incorporates social opportunities. The combination is very powerful and helps encourage/change behavior. In the near future, I think we will see more analytics associated with the tracking of data points, potentially with some predictive capabilities. We will also see more apps that can bring in data from multiple devices and more devices that can track multiple data points. This technology and continued adoption of devices and apps will allow consumers, and eventually providers, to use continuous trend data to make treatment decisions and improve outcomes.

Q. What mHealth tool or trend will likely die out or fail?

A. I don't feel like there are many apps that provide seamless communication/functionality for the provider and patient. I believe this is where the market is going and those that do not address this need will eventually get left behind.Telehealth without device integration will likely fail. What we see now is just the interim step that will be overtaken in the next few years. 

Q. What mHealth tool or trend has surprised you the most, either with its success or its failure?

A. General public adoption of wearable technology has surprised me the most. With the high level of adoption, there is incredible potential to transition the wearable industry from fitness to healthcare. By incorporating data from key health indicators like vitals, blood sugar and stress level, we can improve the health of the population. We have great opportunities to develop more mobile-based tracking and care management applications to detect problems early, help individuals manage chronic diseases, and more.

Q. Who's going to push mHealth "to the next level" – consumers, providers or some other party?

A. Government agencies have a great opportunity to reach healthcare consumers via apps. Government organizations continue to prioritize technology investments in 2015, according to a new study from Gartner. In fact, in a recent study, public satisfaction was higher for government mobile sites and apps than private industries.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. We are working with Wildflower Health, the developer of the maternal health program Due Date Plus, to bring the program to Medicaid populations nationwide. Due Date Plus is a HIPAA-compliant, enterprise-level smartphone application that provides personalized health resources so pregnant women can better manage their pregnancies to avoid complications. Xerox recently facilitated a pilot of the program in Wyoming, and feedback shows that delivering this type of personalized, accessible program increases the number of women who stay in touch with their pregnancy health. Better information and easy access to health advice and healthcare resources offered by Medicaid can help ensure healthier pregnancies, and increase patient engagement – a top priority in healthcare today.

Previous episodes in our mHealth masters series: 

The near future of connected devices

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