December 20, 2012

How the Fiscal Cliff Will Influence mHealth Adoption

As a nation, we are beginning to see the impact of our fiscal policies as it relates to financial accountability and our federal government.  Many businesses are trying to figure out how the policies of our government will affect their ability to grow, adapt, and change.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in healthcare with the urgent need to support mHealth initiatives.  As Kenneth C. Fraizer, CEO of Merck says in a recent Forbes article entitled “Health Care Beyond the Fiscal Cliff Requires Structural Changes”, “This isn’t about averting one moment of crisis. Instead, it’s about creating the predictability and certainty in long-term, economic conditions that are a necessary prerequisite to the kind of investment that our company and others must make to grow and create good jobs for the future.”   It has been well-documented that many programs such as physician reimbursement for Medicare will be impacted as well as Medicare payments to hospitals, nursing homes, and others. These conditions have direct implications to the employment growth in the healthcare sector.   But I cannot help but wonder how health IT can push towards supporting mHealth and how this is going to be affected by the fiscal cliff.  Any  delay or abandonment of mHealth initiatives due to falling over the edge would severerly affect the quality of care patients can expect.

The HITECH Act and Meaningful Use adoption have direct implications to the pervasiveness of the hospital networking infrastructure and the push to support true clinical mobility.  Supporting a robust mobility strategy to enable physicians and clinicians to use hospital-owned and Bring-Your-Own-Devices (BYOD) mobile devices as they provide life critical services has been shown to improve patient safety and clinical satisfaction so with a fiscal cliff looming over our federal government, it can be assumed that many of the programs designed to provide incentives for health IT may be drastically cut or reduced all together.  With an already lean IT staff, the healthcare CIO will need to look at mobility solutions that provide a lower operational cost, provide a sustainable ROI with the lowest CapEx possible.  Now more than ever, it is going to remain critically important for the CIO to recognize that the networking infrastructure must be considered a vital part of the overall hospital cost effectiveness and support the requirements to keep costs low for patients.

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