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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Change, health behaviour

Earlier this week, IBM & Google announced a software platform for connecting at-home medical devices automatically to Google Health (Microsoft’s HealthVault has a list of supported devices). ReadWriteWeb and medGadget have great coverage of the announcement. Having a set of open standards for data sharing between health devices is a powerful start to allow people to start to collect, monitor, analyze and act upon their own personal health data. I’ve started thinking more about using data to change behaviour, in particular personal health data to inform and change exercise and health care behaviours. After reading Joshua Rosenthal’s summary of SxSW 2008’s Health 2.0 panels I was hopeful that there would be some coverage in Austin. The current panels and core conversations look like there are 2 sessions including Melanie Rosenthal’s Killing Us Softly: The Failure of Technology in Health Care, John Grohol’s Social Networking in Health: e-Patients, Data & Privacy;  Thor Muller’s Welcome to Your Posthuman Future and Keely Kolmes Therapy 2.0: Mental Health for Geeks

I’m looking forward to learning and discussing patient privacy and cloud storage. Devices and data to modify behaviour. Business models for small care givers. The new found federal support in the US of future health care including education and prevention, along with the systems overhaul are really exciting. Ontario has been on the eHealth bandwagon and published their 2009-2012 eHealth Strategy. There are private-public partnerships like The Centre for eHealth Innovation that should develop a few key local companies and technologies.