Wireless Technology And Data Systems Transforming Health Care

News outlets report on the way that health information technology is changing the practice of medicine.

The Economist writes about "the potential of wireless gadgets to improve health care, and to ensure more personalised treatment in particular. Pundits have long predicted that advances in genetics will usher in a golden age of individually tailored therapies. But in fact it is much lower-tech wireless devices and internet-based health software that are precipitating the mass customisation of health care, and creating entirely new business models in the process."

The Economist adds that new technologies including smart-phones "will empower patients and doctors, and thus improve outcomes while cutting costs. The near ubiquity of mobile phones is the chief reason to think this optimistic scenario may come true. Patients with fancy smart-phones can certainly benefit from interactive 'wellness' applications that track diet, exercise and vital signs" (4/8).

Bangor Daily News reports on collecting and using health data "to promote effective care, reduce medical errors, and hold down the cost of health care services. The expansion of health information technology ... has recently drawn more than $10 million in federal funding into Maine." Last year, Maine "provided a modest financial incentive for its roughly 40,400 employees to seek health care services from one health care institution over another based on clinical, safety and patient satisfaction data," and "it didn't take long for the sanction to have its desired effect. Within months, the unidentified second-tier provider had improved its performance and state employees no longer had to consult their pocketbooks about where to get their health needs met" (Haskell, 4/9).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.