Better Living Through Technology
“The healthcare system is really disease care, and not much of a system,” said Steve Case in his keynote speech at a recent healthcare industry convention. The Internet visionary turned e-health entrepreneur made some pertinent observations on the ongoing revolution to put consumers back in charge of their own electronic health records. It may seem to some observers that adoption of technology across healthcare has been painfully slow, but as Case pointed out, 15 or 20 years ago most people also believed eCommerce could never work because most would not want to share their credit card information. As things turned out, the key to the current state of widespread eCommerce was interactivity and convenience. Not only did consumers share their credit card information, they also allowed companies to store that information online and advise them on purchases based on their personal buying habits. Case drew a parallel for the need to empower and engage healthcare consumers to more actively manage their own care. “It’s crazy to think that consumers have exceptional tools to manage their financial portfolios and fantasy football teams, but lack valuable tools to effectively manage their healthcare. We need to move from a static situation – when the patient has a problem – to a more engaging application that will bring them back to online health resources more habitually,” he said.
The latest in a series of forward looking podcasts regarding the increasing role of information technology in the transformation of healthcare is now available for download. Dr. Jack Lord, senior VP and CIO of Humana, shares his thoughts on patient-centered healthcare as “moving out of a world that we refer to as the world of sickness and death to a world of life and happiness.” Regardless of fabulous advancements an d discoveries of new molecules, devices and medical techniques, much rethinking is still needed for the actual delivery of services. Regarding the need for political consensus on the need to create a connected IT architecture for healthcare, Lord says, “I think it becomes really important to understand that you need to look at population health in a way where each person’s health becomes sort of a tile that fits into a mosaic that allows you to understand what is going on with that person’s life, that person’s family and their connectivity.”
Trust for America’s Health has released a report explaining why after 40 years of progress, infant mortality rates in the US have been stalled since 2000. Some of the trends are disturbing, yet provide sound information for how to reverse the current trends of prematurity and low birth weight babies that are most often associated with health issues in the mother such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. The report explains how by assuring primary health care to all women aged 15-44, better birth outcomes will be guaranteed.
Our summer TMIS eNewsletter includes an article of interest to our Washington and California readers. A new survey of licensed drivers in Washington and California reveals how well the new hands-free law, making talking on a cell phone while driving without the use of a hands-free, is understood. The new law took effect on July 1, 2008.
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From the Front Page of TMIS News
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'Case' in Point: Patient Control of Data Critical Catalyst for Online Health Care
Internet visionary turned e-health entrepreneur Steve Case predicts that converging trends in public policy, technology and consumerism in health care will combine to effectively "shake the snow globe," simultaneously creating disruption and opportunity, and leading to a revolution in American health care. The America Online co-founder, who now serves as chairman and CEO of Revolution Health, says in-part that consumers need to overcome security paranoia -- as they did in online financial transactions.
Consumers must be in control of the electronic health record, as there is far too much focus on 'who possesses the electronic storage cabinet,'" Case said, adding that in addition to trusting the technology, consumers must also preserve trusted relationships. "One of the most sacred relationships is between physicians and patients. We need to get 'the system' out of the way."
Case delivered his comments in a keynote address to hundreds of attendees at Medco Health Solutions, Inc. 2008 Drug Trend "Predictions" Symposium. Drawing comparisons between the skeptics of wired health care today and those who downplayed the development of the Internet in the mid 1980s, Case argued that once a secure, ubiquitous system is in place, patients and payors alike will be drawn to the financial efficiencies and clinical benefits of connected care.
Healthcare Tech and the World: A New Perspective on Innovation in Healthcare
Perot Systems continues its series of podcasts with a forward-looking discussion about the increasing role Information Technology will play in the transformation of healthcare. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Fickenscher discusses with Dr. Jack Lord the innovations taking place across the healthcare industry, as well as what the future holds for healthcare providers.
The following quotes from Dr. Lord are highlights of the podcast that is now available for download:
Regarding the purpose of Humana's, 'Innovation Center': " ... We decided very clearly to break out of what was a traditional casting of the HMO and move both the clinical and product activities into a spot that would be forward looking ... every year has been a little bit different, we've added new features, we've grown because of talent and I think by virtue of having an innovation center, it's really created an opportunity for us to bring talent in from all over the world."
Regarding enhancing the quality of healthcare for individuals: " ... Health is something that is co-created ... by the person ... and with the healthcare system. So that ... says that the expert around health becomes (the patient) as opposed to the doctor or with the legacy expert system. I think a second piece is moving out of a world that we refer to as the world of sickness and death to a world of life and happiness. The traditional healthcare delivery system has constantly focused on things that fall into the repair shop type of mode and it's taken us down a path of insatiable economic utilization of services."
Trust for America's Health Releases Report on Connection between Women's Health and Stalled Infant Mortality Rates
Trust for America's Health (TFAH) has released a report, Healthy Women, Healthy Babies, in conjunction with the release of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT DATABOOK 2008. The report explains why after 40 years of progress, infant mortality rates in the U.S. have stalled since 2000. TFAH finds that the deteriorating health of American women, due in part to wide-spread chronic disease epidemics like obesity and diabetes, is taking a toll on American infants, resulting in stagnated improvement when it comes to infant health. TFAH's report offers recommendations for Congress and the American health system to aggressively improve the health of new-born infants.
"In the wake of all the great medical breakthroughs over the last 40 years, one would assume that infant mortality rates would plummet. Instead, medical progress has been cancelled out in the delivery room by the deteriorating health of childbearing-aged women and their lack of health care access; and infant mortality rates have stalled as a result," said Jeff Levi, Executive Director of Trust for America's Health. "American women, children and families simply deserve better."
Levi added, "We know now that an infant's chances of sickness, disability and survival often hinge on the health of the mother, before she even becomes pregnant. Therefore, the way to reduce risks to newborn babies is to invest in a woman's health throughout her childbearing years. If we concentrate our efforts most on those hit hardest by the biggest health problems -- low-income and minority women -- we will once again see healthier babies and dropping infant mortality rates."
Survey Reveals Most Drivers See Hands-Free Law Having Little Effect on Cell Phone Usage
A survey of licensed drivers in California and Washington shows overwhelming support for the coming hands-free law which took effect July 1, but that it will have little effect on the cell phone usage of drivers. The survey also documents a great deal of confusion as to when the law actually takes effect, what the cost of the traffic fines are in their respective states, whether it's a primary or secondary law, and what kinds of devices can be used to comply with the new law."
The survey shows that 75 percent of drivers (California, 76 percent; Washington, 71 percent) support the law, while only 10% oppose it. It also shows that 75% of drivers consider cell phone use while driving to be dangerous -- yet 63 percent of respondents use their cell phone while driving on average about an hour a day, one quarter of their daily drive time, and primarily for non-urgent matters. Interestingly, key factors driving the purchase of a hands-free device by respondents were "obeying the law" and "safety" at 51 and 50 percent, respectively. The study also revealed that 47 percent of drivers already use some type of hands-free device, whether it's a headset, the speaker of their cell phone, or a portable or installed hands-free car kit.
Bill Gates Explores Past, Present and Future of Application Development at Tech*Ed North America 2008 Developers
Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates reflected on the company's 33-year history with developers and shared his predictions for the future in front of more than 5,000 developers at Microsoft's Tech*Ed North America 2008 Developers conference. Joined onstage by other Microsoft executives and technology luminaries including S. Somasegar, David Campbell and Brian Harry, Gates demonstrated how Microsoft is making it easier for developers to tackle complex tasks such as creating compelling user experiences, building data-driven applications, managing large enterprise projects and capitalizing on emerging trends including cloud computing, modeling and natural language programming. Microsoft made several announcements at the event, including release timing for Internet Explorer 8 beta 2, a technical collaboration with IBM, availability of Silverlight 2 beta 2, and the launch of the Microsoft project code-named "Velocity," a distributed in-memory application cache platform.
"When I think back on the early days of development when we were all programming in DOS, and then take a look at what we can do now with technologies like the .NET Framework, it simply amazes me how far we've come," Gates said. "I started out as a developer and that's what I remain at heart, so I have a personal interest in the future of the field. I am confident that the path we are laying out today will serve you well into the future."
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