Study seeks answer to question: What is ROI of mobile health for chronic conditions?

There have been some positive studies about the impact of smartphones and mobile health apps for people with chronic conditions, like this one and this one, but mostly it has been about the potential. Members of the healthcare industry see it as a cost-effective way to improve how people with conditions like diabetes and heart […]

There have been some positive studies about the impact of smartphones and mobile health apps for people with chronic conditions, like this one and this one, but mostly it has been about the potential. Members of the healthcare industry see it as a cost-effective way to improve how people with conditions like diabetes and heart disease manage their health, make it easier to track improvements and setbacks, and help to boost adherence through text messages, reminders and alerts. But in a move to quantify that value, Microsoft and prepaid cell phone provider TracFone are embarking on a pilot study with Health Choice Network to figure out what the ROI is behind mhealth for these patient populations, according to a statement from Microsoft.

Miami-based Health Choice Network will provide smartphones to diabetes patients among the 760,000 people  in 17 states with which its community health centers connect. The study will use Windows Phones with a Nokia Lumia 520 handset and will include Microsoft tools such as Microsoft Office 365, HealthVault, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and various smartphone applications, according to the statement. The phones will use security-enhanced, HIPAA-enabled email and messaging communications for patients for their health and regimens. They will also have appointment reminders and remote device management.

Kevin Kearns, HCN CEO, said the study was timely. “This is particularly timely as we focus on the tremendous growth in the Medicaid and individual market, whose enrollees traditionally are at higher risk for chronic disease and benefit most from patient engagement.”

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As a Forbes article on the study notes, this patient population is among the most challenging to treat as they have historically had limited access to healthcare. It will be an interesting study to see if the combination of healthcare reform and mobile technology can make a difference with this patient population. The big question is how the study will define success?