This whole Health 2.0 movement I've been talking about could be defined simply as the current "explosion of new personal health technologies." Which is exciting on its own. But there's more to it. In fact, the experts are grappling over a larger definition indicating "a complete renaissance in the way that healthcare is actually delivered."
Things are changing, Folks, so keep your eyes peeled.
One thing that was clear at the Health 2.0 conference last week was that DIABETES will be at the forefront of these changes. Because it is one of the most widespread and fastest-growing medical conditions in the country, costing the System billions of dollars each year. Did you know, for example, that 25% of Medicare dollars currently go to cover treatment of diabetes complications? Or that 1 in 3 children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes, according to the CDC? Yeah, this would explain why almost every demo on these nifty new health technologies at last week's conference used DIABETES as an example. As the only "out" diabetic in the crowd, I felt a little like some kind of star specimen on parade.
A few more nuggets you
might like ought to know about:
* The executive from Google said it's not enough for that company to build safe place for online medical records; people have to be able to DO something with these records. The records have to be actionable, and as yet, they're still "a long way from delivering the value that consumers want" in health.
* The experts kept saying the critical factor missing in healthcare is relationships / behaviors / social change... For patients, not feeling alone and isolated is so important... Community is key! (sound familiar?)
* Trust is a HUGE factor, because health is "a business of virtue, not just a business of revenue." Damn straight. What struck me was a woman from Blue Cross/Blue Shield demoing a search/informational site called HealthCareFacts.org where information is packaged like a nutritional label. Cute... but who trusts BCBS to give them impartial information there?
* In the longer-term, experts are expecting "disengagement of the employer as the healthcare payer" which will "open up a whole new market." As I also mentioned last week, the prospect of wholly privatized healthcare is pretty scary for people with chronic illness. But then again, free market competition can often mean that choices get better and cheaper.
* One example might be cool new consumer tools that are free to the end-user -- like Quicken Health, which was also previewed at the conference. I wrote about this one a while back. Imagine, the people who brought you QuickBooks and TurboTax will now offer a Medical Expense Manager for free (!)
* See Sunday's NY Times op-ed piece on Healthcare Hopes. "It's good to know that whoever gets the Democratic nomination will run on a very good health care plan," Paul Krugman writes. "What remains is the question of whether he or she will have the determination to turn that plan into reality." Luckily we've got this whole Health 2.0 movement pushing for change.
My thought was that our part as the (online) patient community is to keep on airing our discontent, so that every candidate recognizes the Tsunami of public opinion here, and knows that sweeping the healthcare mess under the rug for another four years will SO NOT be an option.