Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Future of Healthcare: Social and Connected?

The genesis for this post was a very interesting topic of discussion during the healthcare social media chat. What makes medicine - social medicine? Is all social medicine good? And how does this differ from telemedicine for patients?

Let's start with some basics:

Telemedicine: It is the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Social medicine: The field of social medicine seeks to: 1) understand how social and economic conditions impact health, disease and 2) the practice of medicine and foster conditions in which this understanding can lead to a healthier society.
(Source: Wikipedia)

There are plenty of opportunities waiting for entrepreneurs to develop end-to-end solutions that engage and empower patients benefiting the quality of care delivered by HCPs. Within the current landscape their are so many changes happening in the delivery of healthcare that every corner will have a new company.

Matthew Katz (Community based doctor) mentioned a very important aspect: 'Medicine is an inherently social endeavor, regardless of the tools we use.'

There are many institutions which are working wonders when it comes to telemedicine. The Center for Connected Health definitely is one I reckon looking at. The applications are spread across many domains like mobile health, remote monitoring, web-based clinical workflows, online consultations, etc. In contrast, when you think about social medicine, the term 'communication' instantly pops up in your mind. It is indeed very important to learn about the story behind every interaction whether it is patient-patient or doctor-patient (in which case it is even more important).

Healthrageous uses data from biometric devices in an effort to achieve your health goals. You have the very popular MyFitnessPal website/app enabling used to log your food + track activities. Such concepts are entirely based on the user engagement and participation. From a social medicine perspective, currently there is no dearth of networking websites/platforms and now we have numerous ones for specific purposes for both groups patients + physicians. Patientslikeme is a great health information sharing website for patients. You get an instant glimpse into health information that is relevant to your condition/disease from people who have gone through similar episodes. Again, in such cases you have the important transformation of groups into communities happening effectively driving healthcare decisions at the patient level.

I believe we shall see an array of companies emerging based on analysis of all the social interactions data available through your everyday activities. The smartphone is becoming an invaluable device where you have companies like Ginger.IO effectively data mining to understand and gain insights about your health. Amazon/Netflix do an amazing job at identifying 'segments of one' and deliver the best user experience possible based on that information. I wish healthcare was or rather will be on par with such experiences. Combine all the data from all electronic devices you interact with in any capacity and you start developing personas. Deliver quality healthcare using this information...this is what social medicine is about!

I feel there is going to be a convergence of these different fields sooner than later. Example in point: The business model of American Well providing access to medical care through the web for patients while ensuring that physicians are compensated. It is amazing to see all three sectors: patients, providers and payers as part of this platform. I found this part pretty intriguing on their website which is another example for the things in store: 'Online Care has received the federal government's "meaningful use" stamp of approval by earning electronic health record (EHR) modular certification. Providers using telehealth can now qualify for funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.'

I guess the future of telemedicine is dependent on the physician adoption/acceptance which is similar to the engaged patient necessary for social medicine to work successfully. The most effective tools/platforms will creatively merge these so that the doctor-patient interaction improves in the continuum of care with a big focus on patient responsibility. Either way, the future of healthcare is improving drastically and we shall cross the 'chasm' sooner than later.

1 comment:

Brittany said...

Thanks for sharing such valuable information.Keep posting such great info for us thanks.