At HIMSS, I had the opportunity to co-host a panel discussion on Health 2.0 as a co-chair of the e-Health Special Interest Group. We were blessed with an incredible panel:
- Khaled Hassounah, MedHelp (http://www.medhelp.org/)
- Matthew Holt, (http://www.health2con.com/) and (http://www.thehealthcareblog.com/)
- Julie Murchinson, (http://www.health2accelerator.org) and
- Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, THINK-Health (http://www.think-health.com/)
And an incredible group of attendees, leading to some truly fascinating discussion. What follows is a short summary of what I heard in that discussion.
There are a large number of individual resources available out there today in what gets lumped together under the moniker of Health 2.0 – Discussion forums, ask an expert, physician and hospital ratings, health and medication libraries, personal health records, decision support tools and diary/trackers for conditions, medications, diet, exercise, etc. These tools have value, but they become much more usable when presented together and not individual stand-alone. In other words, consumers don’t want to go to one place for a PHR, another for a diet tracker, yet another to research health information and so on.
Much of this set of items that we think of as Health 2.0 really aren’t new. They’ve been out there for quite a while – MedHelp was a dial-in bulletin board system for many years. What has changed is:
- Increased availability of the Internet and broadband
- Technologies (such as AJAX) that are making these tools easier to use and creating a better overall experience
These advances have lead to considerable increases in usage.
For example, Medhelp was used by consumers to find a problem with some Victoria’s Secret bras. A number of women reacted badly to something in the fabric of a particular model. It would have been nearly impossible to connect these incidents together and see the scope of the problem were it not for a sufficiently large community comparing notes about a problem that they were experiencing.
This is the power of online communities that simply does not exist in their absence.
The question now is if these approaches will be used by the local and regional provider organizations or if they’ll continue as something different – outside the system of care that exists today? Equally important is if we can get consumers on board and using the tools.
From the experiences of Kaiser Permanente and others, we find that consumers use patient portals to set appointments, renew prescriptions, communicate securely with their providers and look at data that matters (lab tests for instance).
People’s situation tends to lead to their openness to this type if engagement. It’s tough to engage generally healthy, content consumers. Certain life events (pregnancy, menopause) and certain health events (injury, diagnosis of a chronic condition) lend themselves to greater engagement. It is more challenging to get those not dealing with an urgent health issue to use tools for general wellness, fitness and preventive care.
Consumers (and a number of vendors) are pushing for access to the health record, but it’s not really the record that’s important. It’s what you do with that information that’s important.