Last week I was on the East Coast for a few days, in part for a "Healthcare Roundtable" event in Washington, DC, hosted by the Institute of Federal Healthcare. It was all about "putting the patient at the center of the system." Yada, yada, right?
No less than 27 experts were on hand — everyone from the new director of the Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation from the Veterans Health Administration (who knew?) to a Senior Policy Advisor for Consumer e-Health of the Office the National Coordinator of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Whew. Also on hand were patient advocates Dave DeBronkart and Regina Holliday.
We talked about a lot of things, mostly the fact that patients are NOT at the center of care, though they ought to be. Key problems, with which I'm sure most of you are familiar:
- Care is NOT coordinated. Does your main doctor easily share information with your eye specialist, CDE, or nutritionist? I thought not. Do they even try to charge you when you ask for test results to be transferred from one office to another?
- "No matter how you attack this, financial incentive is always the issue." That was a statement by one wise attendee, while discussing how to get better patient-centered care from providers and clinics. In other words, it always comes back to the question of who pays and why? I won't even bore you with the details of our gripe session about this country's healthcare system paying for all the wrong things for the wrong reasons.
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- All the cool new health 2.0 technology hasn't really found its home yet. All those programs being developed to supposedly share sweeping health records between patients and various providers... Well, they're experiencing very slow adoption. Evidence spans from the fact that most doctors don't even email with their patients yet, to the example right in our own conference room in DC: out of 27 ueber-engaged health experts, only seven people in the room had signed up for a so-called PHR (personal health record, a'la Google Health or Microsoft Health Vault).
Why is that? Because current PHRs aren't really tools; they're just online repositories for recording keeping, and a lot of people don't see the value in fussing with that — especially if your doctor isn't going to access it or even look at it.
Somebody mentioned the Blue Button project, which is a campaign to create a standardized way to download medical information that's stored online. It's an admirable effort, to be sure, but it still doesn't make the stored data "actionable." What does one do with all that health data? Will you have access to it at your fingertips when you need it most? (which is usually not late at night sitting in front of your PC.)
We asked ourselves - what kind of app DO people need in order to have our health data with us in a useful format at all times, ready for 'meaningful use'?
According to reports, it's one of those 'magical' apps that people just love:
"TripIt is well known for organising airline, hotel, and car rental reservations, but is also capable of including everything from restaurant bookings on OpenTable, rail tickets from Amtrak and European rail systems like Deutsche Bahn, movie ticket bookings from Fandango, events from StubHub, and more to create a more truly useful and robust travel itinerary."
Imagine that you could do the same for health stuff: easily schedule your endo appointments, CDE appointments, nutritionist appointments, lab tests, etc. and have results 'auto-magically' sent right to your phone, where all your records were clearly stored and organized. Little reminders could pop up when it was time to schedule your next A1C or eye exam.
Could be brilliant, methinks. Something like this might be my vote for this year's DiabetesMine Design Challenge, announced yesterday. I'm just sayin...