While mHealth presents great opportunities for physicians and patients, conduct your due diligence before jumping full speed ahead into a complex mHealth venture. Here are a few important considerations:
1. Reimbursement. Incorporating mHealth into your practice takes time — time that you may not always get paid for. Before embarking on any mHealth initiative, evaluate whether it makes sense for your practice reimbursement-wise. Keep in mind that payers vary when it comes to reimbursement for care to remote patients. For more on reimbursement, visit bit.ly/remote-reimbursement and bit.ly/video-visits.
2. Legal guidelines. Prior to incorporating mHealth into your practice, consult a healthcare attorney to ensure compliance with federal and state laws, guidelines issued by your state medical association, and the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. For more on laws related to telemedicine, visit bit.ly/mhealth-legal. Also, familiarize yourself with any liability risks that the mHealth approach may raise. In fact, The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurer, recently highlighted some of the risks posed by remote health monitoring at bit.ly/remote-risks.
3. Take time to test the waters. Getting involved in mHealth may take a toll on physician and staff time, and it may cost a significant amount of money. For that reason, Robert Tennant, an executive consultant at healthcare management firm Beacon Partners, recommends starting out slowly with mHealth initiatives. For instance, prior to taking on a more complex mHealth initiative, such as remote health monitoring, open it to a small group of patients, such as those with a particular chronic illness. "Make sure that [you] can make it work on a small scale before going too far with it," he says. "It might be a situation where you have to evaluate a number of scenarios before you finally reach one that makes sense."