Consumers are directing more aspects of their own health care, either through mobile applications or through tools that allow them to compare and contrast health plans, panelists agreed at ACG New York’s 6th Annual Healthcare Conference.

Health care data will become more readily available through mobile devices and applications, says Pat Ryan, CEO of Press Ganye, and panelist at the conference. "The information will drive an awful lot of change, and is driving the thinking in the C - suite in hospitals today," he says.

Ganey was joined at New York’s Metropolitan Club by Jerry Korten of iSonea (who noted that he has accepted a position at another company), Benjamin Pajak of Towers Watson & Co. (NYSE: TW) and moderator Edward (Ted) Kennedy Jr., who recently joined law firm Epstein Becker Green.The panelists each had different experiences with consumer-driven healthcare. Towers Watson has spent about $1 billion in the past year to buy new technologies with the aim to help people decide on a health plan, based on costs and health care needs. “The consumer-centric piece of it is giving people the tools and resources to help them select plans among thousands of options,” Pajak says.Mobile health is another way consumers are taking control of their health care, says Korten, highlighting iSonea’s mobile technology. The company develops software that can be used on phones to help monitor and manage asthma through a device used in connection with mobile phones.Strategic buyers would do well to consider investing in mobile applications. We might see a player like Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), Samsung or Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) buy up the mobile health companies and pull them under one health care company. “It’s a time they could actually do it and end up in very dominant positions,” says Korten. 

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