Monday, September 28, 2009

The Future of Health Care is not with the Reformers

It has been a fascinating couple of weeks. A trip to Toronto to attend HealthCampToronto and then present at Medicine 2.0 was a great experience. Hearing @ePatientDave kick off the conference was inspiring with his call to "Gimme My Damn Data." As always Dave gets to the heart of the issue in Health Care. Health Care is something that is down with us - not done to us. This is a message I want to promote as part of HealthCamp.

This line of thinking was further reinforced this week when I attended a showing of "MoneyDrivenMedicine" put on by Baltimore's Action Film Series. One of the hidden gems in the movie was a comment from one of the doctors that: "Informed and Engaged patients make more frugal choices." In a system that is currently driven by Pay for Quantity this is a way that we can all have an impact on our own health and on the surging medical inflation. More medicine does not automatically mean better medicine. Indeed analysis of Medicare spending across the country proves that higher spending doesn't mean better outcomes. In fact it can mean the opposite.

I frequently listen to C-Span and throughout the summer the airwaves have been pre-occupied with HealthCare Reform. However, the reason that I titled this post "The Future of Health Care is not with the Reformers" is because the the risk we face is that the entrenched positions lobbying Washington will limit the extent of real Health Care Reform.

So what do we do?

The Future of Health Care Reform is not with the Reformers in Washington - It is with each and every one of us.

We can choose to abdicate the responsibility for reform to Washington, or we can make the commitment to get engaged in managing our own health.

As @ePatientDave proves by his actions getting engaged leads to better outcomes. When our health is on the line we can be a critical source of analysis that we can share with our physicians. Research being conducted by members of the PatientsLikeMe site are proving this.

So, as we prepare for the next HealthCamp event which is taking place in Oakland on Monday October, 5th (HealthCampSFBay) at Kaiser Permanente's Garfield Innovation Center, Let's consider how we can each make important micro-choices that support our long term health and well being.

What sort of choices could we make?

  • We could do as @Doc_Rob did and engage colleagues by Email
  • You could do as @JenSMcCabe did at Medicine 2.0 and coerce an audience in to an act of micro-fitness
  • Next time we are at the Doctors ask them if they accept questions by email, or would review your Personal Health Record if you were to give them access
  • If you don't have a Personal Health Record, you can take 30 minutes and sign up for a PHR at Google Health or Microsoft HealthVault
  • You could pick up a Blood Pressure Meter from Amazon, or your local pharmacy, and use a service like to keep track of your readings and share this with your doctor at the next visit
  • Take the stairs between floors instead of the elevator at your office
  • If you have an iPhone, check out the AppStore for mobile health applications, like those from Polka, that might help you manage your health while you are out and about
  • Take a break during the day to stretch your legs and also get a break from the stress.
  • Un-SuperSize those fries

I am sure you can come up with many, many more "micro-choices." (You can always add your ideas in the comments below)

None of these actions require an Act of Congress, but cumulatively they all can make an impact on our long term health and wellness.

Yes, the future of Health Care is not with the Reformers in Washington - it lies in our own hands by each of us stepping up to take more responsibility and by getting more engaged in managing our health.

The future of health is Participatory Health Care. Are you ready to participate?