Can your Smart Phone Manage Chronic Diseases?

Can your Smart Phone Manage Chronic Diseases?

The Pew Foundation put out a very interesting study last week on Chronic Diseases. It was of interest due to the numbers of people who report living with Chronic Diseases and how they are using the Internet to help manage their own personal care. In this ever increasing world of eHealth, the need for apps to manage Chronic Diseases is increasing at a rapid rate. Pew estimates there are now 45% of American Adults living with 1 or more Chronic Diseases.

The growth in mobile apps for managing care is only surpassed by those people reporting Fair/Poor Health (15% to 19% from 2012 to 2013). The number of people reporting Chronic Diseases remained consistent.

In our own research based on the National Health Interview Survey, we found 23.2% of the people living in the US with a disease that caused some limitation. This seems to validate the 24% number as reported by the Pew Report.

Both our own research and Pew confirm the linkage of Chronic Disease with age, race, education, and poverty. In addition, our own Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Stephanie Bailey estimates that about 50% of disease prevention can be related to lifestyle choices.
Not surprising was the increased utilization of health care services by those who suffer from Chronic Disease. Reports have ranged from 8-18% of the population consumes 80% of the total cost of healthcare. The Pew Study shows a strong correlation between having a significant medical event in the past year and the number of chronic diseases the patient suffers from.

Sources of Information

Having lived through the first and second waves of eHealth, one would suggest the mobile platform may be our biggest area of opportunity as a result of this study. It also points to the fact that governments, non-profits, payers, and healthcare providers all have incentives to get smart phones in the hands of those who suffer from Chronic Diseases. Those with Chronic Disease need to be under the direct supervision of a physician. Although the study does show the relationship, it is also apparent that the consumer is taking matters into their own hands (19%). This bifurcation of the traditional information provider to something new opens multiple avenues for communication.

In a recent McKinsey interview with Richard Bracken, Chairman and CEO of HCA, he stated ”Our research tells us the consumer is taking a growing and more meaningful interest in the details of his or her care, and that trend is expected to intensify. Generally, the more information we can put at an individual’s disposal—such as condition, treatment, history, cost, options and prognosis—the more effective the patient relationship could be.”

It also represents the biggest areas of opportunities for new companies to come in and re-shape the health content delivery model.
65% that use family and friends are most likely using old fashioned “social networking” at family gatherings and then Facebook/Twitter applications to get feedback on their diseases from their extended family.

There are some interesting companies in the space including Jeff Arnold’s Sharecare. The results bode well for these types of enterprises. In Nashville, another notable is Healthways who is taking an innovative approach to managing Chronic Diseases.

Chronic Disease Smart Phones healthcare trends