Taking our own transformation medicine: how to integrate digital health into healthcare

An antidote to Dan Munro’s top-down and pessimistic vision of healthcare transformation (having much in common with Ezekiel Emanuel’s, see below) are two parallel prescriptions on integrating digital health into our healthcare systems and maybe, just maybe, transforming it.

The first acknowledges basic reality: we have all the health tech and funding we need right now. We are way beyond the fictional one device, app or service that will deus ex machina and transform healthcare. What we in the field need to do is integrate them, measure (and integrate) the data, get these systems and services into the home and–interestingly–seek out atypical early adopters. Your users/patients may not be the sexiest market for cocktail party chatter–older adults, the developmentally or cognitively disabled–and you’ll have to think beyond smartphone apps, but here is an opportunity to make an impact on a real, large, high-need and open market which can improve care, outcomes and reduce/redistribute cost over time. How The Digital Health Revolution Will Become A Reality (TechCrunch) Hat tip to reader Paul Costello of Viterion Digital Health.

The second analyzes a key point often neglected in healthcare discussions but well-known to students of behavior, like marketers: the patient’s perception of value. Any procedure or treatment has tradeoffs. How much will it cost, the possible improvement, and, to this Editor thinking it through, the consequences in time, pain and results if done (and likewise, if not). As the writers put it succinctly:

Too often, today’s uncoordinated performance-measurement systems focus primarily on which care processes are used and fail to empower patients to answer the basic question: “How will this treatment decision affect someone like me?” Furthermore, current systems do not compare treatments or providers in a head-to-head fashion.

Where we are coming up short is giving patients the tools “that incorporate easy-to-interpret information on outcomes, associated with specific treatments, (which) can improve the likelihood that patients will choose high-value care.”  The authors then prescribe four steps towards this end. They concentrate far more on what to do with data–analytics and decision support, calling Dr Watson–but generating/collecting the data and integral to care will be digital health. An excellent exposition of absolutely necessary foundational points for the Eric Topol vision of patient-driven medicine (see below). Patient-Reported Data Can Help People Make Better Health Care Choices (Harvard Business Review)

Related: the Topol versus Emanuel almost-faceoff at last year’s NYeC Digital Health Conference, and their drastically different future visions (the largely in-control, Doctorless Patient versus the Perfectly Processed and Compliant Patient). Grab a coffee for this one. 



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