Here's what the GOP doesn't understand about the future of health care

An iPhone being used by a doctor as part of patient examination. Smartphones and computers can now communicate with ingestibles that collect data inside the body, including a 'pill' developed at MIT to detect bleeding in the digestive tract.
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An iPhone being used by a doctor as part of patient examination. Smartphones and computers can now communicate with ingestibles that collect data inside the body, including a 'pill' developed at MIT to detect bleeding in the digestive tract.

Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz's recent comments concerning health care reform illustrates just how out of touch Congress is with modern medicine. In a press conference addressing the ongoing debate over Obamacare repeal, he stated that Americans should make a choice between purchasing health insurance and an iPhone—in the Congressman's own words "rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love…Americans should invest…in their own healthcare."

As expected, Chaffetz met with sharp criticism for comparing the cost of a phone to the cost of health care. However, I think that most everyone missed the real fallacy in his statement—that iPhones and health care are mutually exclusive.

In fact, iPhones and other mobile devices can be a real asset to managing chronic disease and are becoming an integral part of care.

Rep Chaffetz should learn more about what's happening in care before he and his colleagues begin to try to create sweeping reform.

The Digital Revolution in health care: Improving outcomes and cutting costs

Engaging patients in their care through individual accountability—a sentiment that Rep Chaffetz actually got right (in a roundabout way)—has been shown to improve outcomes. When patients actively participate in their care and understand the goals of therapy, they tend to experience fewer hospitalizations and fewer complications related to their chronic diseases. Fewer hospitalizations and fewer complications result in much lower costs.

Physicians are now prescribing apps to track blood pressure, activity and heart rate—just to name a few. Other applications such as MyRxProfile are being used to help patients monitor for adverse drug interactions, a leading cause of emergency room visits in patients over the age of 65. All of these applications can potentially help patients and physicians focus on prevention—ultimately saving dollars.

New devices are being created every day to incorporate smartphones into collecting important medical and biologic data. For example, the AliveCor device allows patients to get a real time Electrocardiogram (EKG) simply by touching their fingertips to an electrode that is installed on their smartphone—often eliminating the need for an ER visit or hospitalization.

Apple's Health Kit is now being used to help encourage medical app development and to collect important health and wellness data. In addition, Apple's Research Kit is being used for important groundbreaking medical research by several leading academic medical centers across the United States. Patients are more internet-savvy and many come well prepared to office visits armed with information obtained from the internet.

According to the Pew research center, nearly 75 percent of all patients go to the internet either before or after a visit with their healthcare provider. These patients—now called "e-patients" are well connected, well informed and digitally proficient in the healthcare space.

So Rep Chaffetz, learn from doctors and patients—iPhones are part of health care, not a frivolous luxury the poor can do without

It is my hope that Congress—both Republicans and Democrats—will stop the fighting and political posturing and work together to create legislation that will provide high quality, affordable and accessible healthcare for all Americans. There is no longer any place for comments such as those from Chaffetz in a discussion of meaningful reform.

We must embrace technology and promote its use among our patients. As doctors become increasingly overwhelmed by paperwork and other mandated clerical activities, it is essential that we continue to develop digital tools to assist and engage patients in the management of their diseases. So, in my view, you should be able to have your healthcare….and your iPhone too!

Commentary by Dr. Kevin Campbell, an internationally recognized cardiologist and On Air Television Medical, Health & Wellness expert. He appears regularly on Fox News, Fox Business, CBS and many other national media outlets. A pioneer of the use of social media and digital technologies in healthcare, Dr . Campbell is also an accomplished journalist, blogger, and the author of two books. Follow him on Twitter @DrKevinCampbell.

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