Re-imagining Health

I was watching Jay Parkinson at The Feast earlier this morning talking about Re-imagining Health. Jay formalized his social health care practice tools into Hello Health which allows patients and doctors to engage using new tools to improve health care. He also runs an innovation consultancy, The Future Well, focused on re-imagining health, healthy products and brands.

Jay Parkinson: Re-imagining Healthcare from alldaybuffet on Vimeo.

I went to school thinking I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to make people’s lives better. I wanted to focus on sports medicine and orthopedics. Started down this path, registering in the Kinesiology program at the University of Waterloo and hoping to write the MCAT and get accepted to a medical program. At the end of the first year, after volunteering I realized that there were a lot of sick people and that health care wasn’t where I wanted to be. But I had the opportunity to work on a NeXT slab where I used the Web for the first time. (It was also the first time I was subjected to writing code using Objective-C and building experiences using Interface Builder). I decided that technology and design was where I wanted to focus. It’s only recently that my experiences have brought me back to thinking about health care and technology.

“Health, not healthcare!” – Ester Dyson

The consumerization of health and health care is an interesting. The Internet has started to democratize access to information. At about the 19:05 marker in Jay Parkinson’s presentation he talks about Zach Klein‘s experience of $4000 and 20 hours of lost work to get a diagnosis. And when typing in the symptoms into a search engine the first hit was the diagnosis provided by the second physician visited. Just to be clear, I don’t think that Jay Parkinson is arguing to remove medical providers or to only perform self diagnosis, he’s arguing that these new social tools can help connect, enable and inform people and their physicians. He’s built these social tools into HelloHealth, it’s a shared plan – where doctors and patients collaborate. Better informed patients hopefully mean more compliant patients.

And I’ve started to look for ways to better understand my own choices and behaviours to help me make sustainable choices. Why? In 2006 I had a heart attack at DemoCampToronto6 (aka BarCampER). And generally I’m an informed patient, I’m relatively compliant but I want better tools to understand my health. Gartner has called the consumerization of IT the most important trend of the decade 2005-2015. And we can see the impact of these changes on mobile phones and software distribution with the rise of the iPhone and the application store. People are adopting social technologies like Facebook and Patients Like Me. New sensors allow access to data to improve health.

This has me thinking more about the tools and connections used at Kristin’s office to enable engagement and connectivity with patients. I’m left thinking about the regulatory implications for health delivery and how to improve patients lives. And the risks to professional practice, but I think there is significant opportunity beyond electronic medical records and we need to start exploring them.

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4 thoughts on “Re-imagining Health”

  1. Funny how people doing startups in their 20's rarely think about healthcare. 😉

    Thanks for the post and the videos. I especially liked the comments in Jay's talk regarding the futility of top-down solutions. My wife is also a doc (psychiatrist) and I've also spent a lot of time thinking about how many opportunities there are to greatly improve what we're all doing now. But at the same time the complexity of even the smallest parts of the field (to say nothing of the organizational structures and motivations) can make adoption of anything different a huge challenge.

    The other thing to of course, particularly when thinking about Canadian startups who might want to help aspects of the Canadian system, is that the differences in economic model and incentive points between here and the US are huge. That of course might present unique opportunities here that wouldn't make sense there or elsewhere.

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