Imagining a customer-driven, mobile-equipped care system

By Brian Dolan

Darrell WestThe Brookings Institute just published a very worthwhile read: Customer-Driven Medicine: How To Create A New Health Care System, by Darrell West that aims to imagine a different healthcare system where the patient is in charge of their own health with help from EMRs, mobile phones, personalized care and more. In this fictitious world, people monitor their own weight, blood pressure, pulse, sugar levels and more by using remote devices and get feedback from the care providers about their progress.

"Patients take responsibility for their routine health care and rely on physicians and hospitals for more serious medical conditions. This system is not a futuristic vision, but is well within our grasp," West writes.

Interestingly, the crux of the report is not which tools are coming to market or why this opportunity is so ripe -- instead, West focuses on the question of "how" this vision might come about. How can we incentivize patients and providers to want to do adopt and drive such a system? Here's how:

"Among the specific changes that are required include: 1) changes in public and private insurance coverage that reimburse health care providers for mHealth care, remote monitoring, electronic communications with physicians, e-prescribing, and downloading medical tests to cell phones and other mobile devices; 2) rewarding physicians who provide positive health outcomes for their patients, as opposed to paying them for the quantity of tests they have ordered; 3) greater patient encouragement for preventive health care, good diet, and regular exercise activities and creation of a Preventive Medicine Fund that covers gym memberships, exercise equipment, flu shots, diet advice, smoking cessation programs, and substance abuse treatment; 4) development of a good health rewards program similar to good driver discounts that provides benefits to patients who lead healthy lifestyles."

Be sure to read the