Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Health Reform is up to us - The innovators and consumers

I find myself regularly listening to C-Span and the machinations going on in Washington to reform the Health Care system. I hesitate to call it a Health Care system because the current system in the USA is a Sick Care system.

President Obama is right to be tackling Health Care reform. The current growth in medical spending is unsustainable. The problem comes in the execution of the reform via Congress. The challenge is of such magnitude that the solution will be complex. When that is expressed in legislative terms we end up with a bill of more than a thousand pages and it is destined to grow as amendments are added to accommodate different interests.

The process is frustrating and difficult to understand by outsiders.

What are we trying to accomplish here? We have to stay focused on the prize. What is that?

We want a Health Care system that is focused on keeping us healthy. A Health Care system that enables us to afford preventative action to keep us health for as long as possible. A Health Care system in which the consumer/patient is an active participant (or who can nominate someone to act on their behalf).

The current system is largely geared towards paying for quantity, not quality. There is no incentive in the industry to spend less to get better care. More tests means more money. The Pharmaceutical companies are complicit in this too. A cure is not good business. Far better to stabilize and have patients on a lifetime supply of medications.

There are two groups that can change this:

  1. Innovators/Entrepreneurs
  2. Consumers/Patients

HealthCamp has proven to me that there are real innovators out there. My professional role has also shown me that there are innovative thinkers inside the Health Care Industry. It is a source of hope. Yes, people are working to make a real difference in health care.

The Health 2.0 Accelerator meetings bring together dozens of entrepreneurs and really drives home the vibrancy in the Health 2.0 arena. New applications are emerging and the Internet is unleashing solutions that are leveraging the wisdom of the crowds and the ability to aggregate vast amounts of data and put those new insights to good use in enabling actionable change.

HealthVault and Google Health are providing un-tethered Health Records that we can take with us, regardless of who we work for or which medical benefits plan we have.

Sites like PatientsLikeMe are providing help to disease sufferers. Change:healthcare is helping consumers spend their money more wisely on health and a growing array of other innovators are building applications that plug in to the Personal Health Record "ecosystems" that are emerging.

The next step is for us, the consumers and patients, to stand up and get involved. We can become more active in our own health care. The tools are out there. This is what HealthCamp is all about. It is about providing a grass roots platform for consumers, patients and professionals from across the industry to come together and discuss the issues and generate ideas that can address the challenges we face in Health Care.

You can get involved. There are HealthCamp events taking place in the next few months. Check the calendar. Register on the HealthCamp site and join in the discussion.

If we want to live healthier, longer lives we can't afford to be illiterate when it comes to health issues. Health Illiteracy can kill you. We need to track our Body Mass Index, to take our Blood Pressure regularly. These simple steps can help us become more aware of our general health.

I am increasingly fearful that Washington will produce a health care reform bill but it will not achieve what the President set out to achieve. It will not make us healthier. It may just make Health Care more complicated and more expensive to deliver.

If we want to see a real Health Care, rather than the Sick Care system we have today, then we, the Innovators and Consumers, have to work together to create the Participatory Health Care system that we want to be a part of. You can take the first step by getting involved in a local HealthCamp.