imageAt the Venture+ Forum at the 2013 Mobile Health Summit yesterday, Lisa Suennen, Managing Director of Psilos Ventures was asked what she and her venture capital fund look for in choosing new investments for their health care portfolio. She succinctly said, “technologies that lower costs.”

With nearly $1 in $5 of the U.S. economy attributable to health spending, Lisa’s got a point. Technology in U.S. health care has been mostly additive and expense-inducing, not reducing: fax machines and printers, for example, continue to proliferate in health care settings as part of “networking,” and once you add a new clinical technology to the medical arms race, it usually doesn’t replace or universally substitute for an existing technology.

What mobile platforms and their underlying standards can do is to distribute advice, care and knowledge beyond Pill Hill and tertiary medical centers, those medical schools and gurus who hold much of the intellectual capital that has been locked up and geographically centralized. Mobile helps unlock those silos, enabling care to move where it needs to go.

What will move mobile along in health care?

  • Paying for value, not volume – aligning incentives for value-based care, in bundling, paying for performance, and sharing financial risk
  • Moving primary care into the community and out of doctors’ offices, to pharmacies, grocery stores, schools, workplaces, and into the patient’s home
  • Getting patients more involved in self-care and self-reliance through engagingly designed programs coupled with incentives that ‘nudge’ people toward more patient activation and self-care.

These market forces can leverage peoples’ existing relationships (“life flows”) with their mobile phones and tablets.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Over the next 3 days at the mHealth Summit, we’ll be hearing about the growing role of mobile platforms in health and health care. Qualcomm, AT&T and Verizon (the “premium platinum sponsor” of the event) have large pieces of real estate on the convention floor. Along with Fortune 500 companies, more of which are entering the health arena, are a growing cadre of start-ups and smaller firms who are innovating at the bleeding and leading edges. They focus on streamlining clinical workflows for physicians, creating efficiencies in hospitals and supply chains, and enabling consumers, patients and caregivers to more deeply engage in self-care at home.

Watch for mobile to permeate all aspects of health and health care so that the “m” becomes absorbed, simply, into the everyday workflow and life flow of people.