Monday, September 10, 2012

#HealthIT4U Great conversations at goes to show that it is not the size of the crowd it is the richness of the conversations that matter.

A small group of people congregated for a wide ranging discussion that focused on what actions we could take to improve Health Care through Health IT.

While Health IT has been receiving significant investment in recent years, public health and welfare services are still starved of funding. Consequently there is a need to maximize the use of resources. What does this mean? We need to aggressively share information between organizations in this space. By sharing data in a way that is reusable we will find people that can make sense of the larger pool of data.
Another line of discussion was to look at where there were "pain points" that could help to drive change. This evolved around a discussion about sources of funding. We are very used to looking at hospital systems as a source of funding because they will benefit from the savings from a population with better health. But is this really true. In the current environment hospitals are rewarded for handling bigger patient volumes. if they see fewer patients they make less money. It is only as payment models change that are based on outcomes will we see the focus shift to preventative care. One of the points I made is that the current system places no value on the time or quality of life of the patient. Indeed the simple word "Patient" implies a passive player that waits for others to take action. We need to recognize the role of each and everyone of us as a "Health Citizen." Citizenship should not be a passive role. We all have a duty and responsibility as citizens.

If we place a value on our time as Health Citizens then new workflows become interesting. Would you rather pay for an online video consultation in your own time rather than battle traffic and take time off work to visit the doctor?
One question asked was whether we could use the stories of the olympians to encourage people to get engaged in their health? Would too many people think that these almost super-human athletes were too far removed from everyday life? It would be great for some of those athletes to tell the story of the value they get from being able to download and check their health records and to carry them with them when they travel.

A discussion also took place about caregivers and the dispersed family. Many families today are separated by distances and this makes it incredibly hard to care for family members. Health Care needs to recognize the family unit's role in health care and enable data sharing.

We also need to recognize the role of the individual as the de facto Health Information Exchange. It is no longer a case of enabling Health Citizens to download their data. We also have to change the culture that treats any data from the "patient" as second class data. To do this we have to think about what tools providers will need in order to cope with receiving ever growing volumes of patient managed and patient generated data.
A really interesting discussion developed about the potential to use Children's vaccination records as an agent of change. This is an area of annual frustration for many families. Compiling the latest vaccination information in order to supply a child's school can be an exercise in frustration that involves a visit to their child's doctor. Imagine a situation, like in Indiana, where parents could go on line to obtain their child's vaccination record. To identify missing vaccinations and being able to forward the completed vaccination record to the school. This is an opportunity to include the parents, schools and the children in a coordinated move to improve health.

Another aspect of the discussion was a re-affirmation of the work I have been doing with Community Education Group. One of the other participants - from the National Health IT collaborative for the Underserved - pointed out how the role of the Health Citizen Navigator can play an incredibly valuable role in the community to spread the Health message and engage people in the community in their health. At the present time these Community groups are kept at arms length. We need to embrace them and find a way to see that their efforts can be rewarded. Community-based medical homes have so much potential to improve population health.