Have you been captivated by the evolution of patient-centric health? The broader scope of eHealth, mHealth, and digital health (in its beginning stages) is exciting to watch. However, the concept of a truly “plugged in” healthcare system is far from reality. Still, groups like the Center for Connected Health are pushing the industry forward.
Pioneering founder, Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, and his center are driving the tech-enabled, patient-centric vision. Recently, Discovery.com featured Dr. Kvedar, along with the Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania, in a Health IT segment. There, he discussed advancements in remote patient monitoring that are critical to cost savings and more importantly, saving lives. The short web video highlights elderly patients who monitored their health daily with devices from home. Those daily stats are then automatically transmitted to an RN who looks for any warning signs and can quickly respond if necessary—high tech and user-friendly!
Similarly, GE Healthcare just got approval from the FDA to launch an app for radiologists to remotely review computed tomography and magnetic resonance on iPads. This use of mobile devices by doctors as well as remote monitoring of patients at home both show that “the line between consumer and enterprise devices continues to blur.”
The lines between the healthcare establishment and the masses is more fuzzy with the growing adoption of social media. Everyone using social media is a past, current, or future patient. Facebook, Linkedin, and even YouTube are all platforms for finding and sharing health information. Searches on Twitter for hashtags such as #mhealth or #wellness yield thousands of links to articles and discussions by individuals, companies, and doctors.
In a 2008 report entitled The Wisdom of Patients: Health Care Meets Online Social Media, the California HealthCare Foundation states that “the collective wisdom on PatientsLikeMe.com may rival the body of information that any single medical school or pharmaceutical company has assembled in the field.” This evolution in social sharing as it relates to health made the list of Top 10 Health IT Predictions for 2012 as recently reported by InformationWeek.
Even peer pressure has gone digital. Now friends and colleagues can support each other to consume less calories or walk a few more steps online with connected personal health devices. WithNike+, you can track the distance you jog, share your route on Facebook, andset up challenges with friends.
In this rapidly changing industry, most agree on the big picture goals: reduce costs and improve the quality of patient care (functional limitation reporting, for example). Geisinger Health System is just one example. Only with improved data, more case studies, and extensive research will we truly be able to define whether or not these goals have been achieved.