Friday, August 14, 2009

Healthcare 2.0: Wake up and Breathe

Excuse me, there's just been too much going on out there ... but that's not news.
If it's not global banks, its the auto industry or healthcare ... or just more inane posturing by Sarah Palin. (does anyone really take her seriously? ... I mean REALLY?). "We are where we are", a very wise man told me (My Dad, a long time ago ... and again just recently), "we'll deal with it a day at a time".

The financial system has a life of it's own ... hopefully we can let it get healthier. My media work in New York has taught me that news drives the market ... but not usually in the direction analysts predict. This is certainly true now. If analysts paid more attention to underlying causes (and traders actually listened) the market might exhibit more intelligence ... but "we are where we are". Companies that ignore the heartbeat of change will wither, those that feel the wind will fly.

Healthcare, on the other hand, is a controlled device of man's medical skill and financial cunning. The US healthcare system is clearly in need of overhaul ... costs are far too high and options far too few. Whether you think that a national health plan will help or hurt, information will prove the most valuable tool.

SO ... on that note, here is an interesting project on a key trend in medicine: self-service. Ronald Dixon, director of the Virtual Practice Project at Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital is introducing a medical kiosk, called Health Care 360. Blood pressure, diet, physical issues and even test data are entered and over time can act as an important diagnostic screening tool, allowing doctors to pay more attention to patients needing live attention. By turning patients from passive to active participants in their own health care, a truly holistic approach to medicine is enabled.

I worked on a project over a decade ago for GNC called "Alive Stores" with a similar intelligent "self-service" approach. While it faded out at the time due to costs, the concept was valid. With the drumbeats on Healthcare growing louder along the Potomac ... the industry would be well advised to pay attention (and perhaps some funding) to similar projects making smart use of such enabling technologies.