Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The future shape of health and care management

My Outlook inbox contained two totally disconnected e-mails containing links that illustrate how care and health management in the future might (will) be managed.

I don’t know what it is like outside the UK but the health and care services provided by the Government, and much of the private sector, use a level of IT that Noah would toss out of the Ark and demand something more modern.

Every shrill article in the media about the ageing population is accompanied by dire predictions of how the health and care services will implode and that people (mainly 50-plus) must take more responsibility for their own health and care. They may be right.

One thing that could make a big difference is the application of the latest concepts of the Web.
Arjan in't Veld told me about a US outfit called Lotsa Helping Hands that is a free online volunteer caregiving coordination tool. Basically it applies social networking functionality to a specific issue of coordinating care for an individual. What a brilliant idea.

So far there are 8,000 Lotsa Helping Hands communities. The company has partnered with organisations like the Alzheimer’s Association, American Lung Association, Lance Armstrong Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society providing co-branded services they offer to their members.

The other development is the concept of owning your own medical data and using Google or Microsoft tools for its management. This appeared in an article in Technology Review.
Google and Microsoft want to do the same thing for personal health that software such as Quicken has already done for people's personal finances. Google Health (released in May) and Microsoft HealthVault (launched last October) allow consumers to store and manage their personal medical data online. Users will be able to gather information from doctors, hospitals, and testing laboratories and share it with new medical providers, making it easier to coordinate care for complicated conditions and spot potential drug interactions or other problems. Both Google and Microsoft will also offer links to third-party services like medication reminders and programs that track users' blood-­pressure and glucose readings over time.

Are you getting the picture? It looks to me like we will have the providers of care and health services using clapped out IT whilst consumers will be expecting/demanding/needing to use Web 2.0 and Cloud technologies. Dick Stroud


Susan Torrico said...

As I see it, the simpler the tool, the better for the consumer. Can't speak to Noah's or the UK’s level of technical expertise, but consumers in the US are looking for VERY SIMPLE but effective solutions to help them manage their healthcare. When people take enough of these simple baby steps on their own, they may get comfortable with adopting more complex, integrated systems, but those being developed now present some very high hurdles for the consumers!

As you suggested, the Web offers a ready platform for brilliant healthcare solutions. Two years ago, we adapted our signature reminder program, OnTimeRx, as a web application to provide medication reminders by phone, email and pager at www.OnCellRx.com.
OnTimeRx is simple, intuitive, and very affordable, and was mentioned in AARP magazine, Mar/Apr 08 issue in the article “Staying Connected to Those Who Care”.
Thousands of Baby Boomers are currently using many 3rd party services and tools in an attempt to achieve the lofty goal of "personal healthcare management".

However, Big Pharma, Big Medicine, and Big Tech companies want everything all "slick", integrated, and coordinated before they'll sign on to fund anything. But when things get too high-tech, the intended end-user will turn away - in droves! - and refuse to use these services, because they look too much like "Big Brother"!!. Oh, what a waste of potential and money that will be!

As a pharmacist, I know first-hand the problems that patients have with adherence issues, and that’s why I developed a wonderful and well-respected medication reminder software program called OnTimeRx. It's been available on the Internet since September 2000 at: www.ontimerx.com
OnTimeRx works on Palm, PPC Windows Mobile PDAs, and on Windows XP and Vista desktop PCs.

While OnTimeRx software is being utilized on a variety of platforms by thousands of individuals around the world to successfully manage their medication schedules, Big Pharma has shown little interest in promoting it, even though it would exponentially increase their product sales. Go figure!

Susan Torrico, President
AmeliaPlex, Inc.

BTW- Microsoft includes OnTimeRx software in their generation-specific “Senior PC” Vista systems for Assistive Technology! It’s a START!!!

Laura Mitchell said...

Yes, the simpler the better. Even though it is better & simpler, it will take the public a little while to catch on and grasp this new technology. How many people in the early 90's said they would never have use for the Internet and for sure never want a website for their business. I know, because I was in the business of selling dial-up to local businesses, teaching Email and Internet Fundamental classes as well as HTML Fundamentals (trying to convince business owners that a website IS a good idea). My, how times change.
And now, here I am trying to promote technology in the aging industry. There are so many interested parties in this and everyone seems to be surprised that technology is not being more fully utilized the industry, but I think time is the only key! Gaytha Traynor (Co-founder of elder technology GrandCare Systems) summed it up pretty well - soon, it will be just as unheard of for Grandma to not be in a fully featured, "SMART" Home as it is for today's children to ride in a car wihtout a car seat. Why wouldn't our seniors have the smartest homes to help them physically, mentally and emotionally? Why shouldn't they be able to take their vital readings and have a computer automatically transmit those readings to a family member or health care provider? Why shouldn't their daughter or son know if they are sick or have not eaten? Why shouldn't our grandparents be able to participate in the technology EMAIL and texting era - - without having to know ANYTHING about it. Just be able to use their TVs?

All of these things are possible and available now. Why aren't they flying off the shelves? I say soon - very soon!

Enough of my soapboxing here! We are all promoting this and together - we can promote the vision. The vision to age in place with technology assist. I like the sound of that.

Laura Mitchell
GrandCare Systems

GrandCare explores a new frontier in technology using the Internet, the Senior's TV to communicate and wireless sensors to monitor wellness.