Managed Care

Even Intransigent Luddites Fall for mHealth's Promise

Frank Diamond

I am walking down the street in, say, New York, and somebody behind me (or coming at me or at my side) says something and I start to respond, “It’s so nice to see you as well!” or “So’s your mother.”

I realize, a second too slowly, that the person hadn’t addressed me but had been talking into a Bluetooth microphone. I think. At least with old-fashioned cell phones, the upturned elbow was a giveaway.

The humorist Robert Benchley once described pictures in newspapers of revolutions going on, with all sorts of horror and mayhem captured in the photo. Usually, there is someone in the foreground looking blankly at the photographer and completely oblivious to the end of the world.

I am that person; what the hipsters call a Luddite. I am also somewhat oblivious to the beginning of the world, as well. A world where technology can do more than just distract us.

So give author Michael Levin-Epstein credit for capturing this Luddite’s fancy with his cover story about mHealth.

Uwe Reinhardt, PhD, the famous Princeton economist, recently pointed out to us that there are vertical economists and horizontal economists when it comes to health care spending. You get it. Same with Luddites.

I want little to do with gadgets and technology so long as I’m healthy. However, I will become like one of those who camp outside of Apple stores for the next “next” if I think it would give me better care.

Luckily, I won’t have to. Mobile apps are here and that’s a good thing. It’s good for clinician executives at health plans, physicians, patients, and reporters who cover their comings and goings. It’s even good for Luddites.

Is there anything going on behind me?

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