Will the rise in wellness apps drive up the cost of care?

The rise of wellness apps could result in consumers seeking unnecessary treatment.

After Apple announced the development of its new HealthKit app, which tracks and stores a user's health information, there has been a surge in competing applications entering the marketplace. While allowing consumers greater insight into their health may seem like a good thing, it could potentially carry significant consequences for the cost of care.

The Lown Institute, founded by Nobel Laureate Dr. Bernard Lown, focuses on curbing unnecessary medical treatments and creating a more efficient approach to health care. In a recent newsletter, the institute expressed concern that the popularity of apps such as HealthKit could lead to users overreacting to health information and seeking unnecessary care. 

"While the app and the ability to connect to medical records may be useful, it also has potential to create more worry and unnecessary medical intervention. Depending on what information the app collects and how it presents the data to users, it's easy to imagine situations where the app's findings lead to yet more over-diagnosis (for example, of harmless variation in heart rhythms)," the newsletter read. 

According to the Institute of Medicine's 2012 report, Americans spend approximately $750 billion per year on unnecessary medical treatments, or roughly a third of total health care spending.

With many of today's care facilities already experiencing issues with health insurance claims management as as result of shrinking federal reimbursements and the rising cost of care, a further increase in unnecessary testing and treatments be particularly worrisome. 

If your facility is currently looking to address issues with cash flow, it could be time to outsource receivables management to a third party. This decision an lead to a decrease in the amount of dollars written off to bad debt, and help your facility to continue providing quality care.