NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

FCC versus Your Health

June 3, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) recent decision to regulate the Internet with the same law that was created for "Ma Bell" before World War II has plenty of implications for the health innovation economy. The era of "permission-less innovation" may be coming to an end as the FCC will scrutinize telemedicine applications and other broadband-enabled health care services because they involve connectivity.

Net neutrality, as regulated by the FCC in some 300 pages of rules, threatens one of the most promising areas of innovation in health care — using mobile devices to maintain and improve people's health.

The number of new technologies and business models that rely on mobile telephony, especially smartphones, to reduce the costs of America's epidemic of chronic illness is increasing exponentially. And they are sorely needed, as chronic illness drives our out-of-control health spending.

Consider:

  • The most expensive 1 percent of patients — which each consume more than $90,000 of health spending annually — account for more than one-fifth of all health spending.
  • The most expensive 5 percent of patients account for almost half of health spending. The primary factor that drives a patient into this most expensive tier is at least one chronic illness. These include mood disorders, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and hypertension.

There is rapidly emerging evidence of successful mobile therapies for chronic illnesses. For example, WellDoc is one of a growing number of providers in diabetes management that use mobile technology to remind patients to check their blood glucose and take their medications.

Mobile interventions may finally solve the problem of delivering health services effectively to low-income and minority populations who have less access to traditional pathways to care, even though they suffer a significantly greater burden of chronic illness. Allowing FCC's new rules to happen would cause the most promising area of innovation in U.S. health care to blow up on the launching pad, says NCPA senior fellow John R. Graham.  

Source: John R. Graham and Roslyn Layton, "FCC Versus Your Health," National Center for Policy Analysis, June 3, 2015

 

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