Posted in #HIT, Ehealth

What’s the future of healthcare?

The man once hailed by GQ Magazine as one of the 12 “rock stars of science” doesn’t predict a rosy future for hospitals or medical clinics. But he does expect the individual consumer to be much more aware and proactive about healthcare.

In a Tuesday morning 2013 HIMSS Conference & Exhibition keynote replete with pop culture references and visual guides, Eric J. Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care, delivered a ringing endorsement of the smartphone as the healthcare delivery platform of the future.

Digital health has gotten to a point, he said, where the average consumer can measure and track vital signs and other physiological data through his or her smartphone, thereby creating a “Google map of each individual.” That, he said, flies in the face of America’s healthcare industry, which is poised to experience a technological revolution similar to the ‘Arab Spring” revolts that swept through the Mideast.

“We practice medicine today at a population level,” said Topol, who is also a cardiologist and the West Endowed Chair of Innovative Medicine at San Diego-based Scripps Health. “We do everything the same. We don’t recognize each person as an individual.”

And digital health, he said, will change all of that.

Topol argued that population health leads to wasteful and even potentially dangerous practices, such as prostate exams and mammograms. Digital health tools would enable each individual to determine if he or she would need a test, he said.

The smartphone – the “lab on a chip” – can and will replace the annual physical, Topol predicted, and offer opportunities to screen for a wide variety of ailments, from lung disease and eye problems to heart issues, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Topol predicted that healthcare would move away from the hospital – which George Orwell once called “the antechamber to the tomb” – and toward the home, with consumers in charge of their own health and health data and physicians propelled into the role of specialists.

He also touted the development of handheld genome sequencers, and said science and medicine are moving towards a day when an individual’s genomes can be mapped and used to detect, cure and possibly even prevent diseases like cancer.

And all it’s going to take, he said, is a sense of empowerment on the part of the individual, armed with a smartphone.

‘What we need to do is tear down that wall,” he said.

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Posted in #HCSM, #HIT, Ehealth, mHealth

Resource guide points cancer patients to digital coping tools

The eHealth Initiative (eHI), a non-profit organization whose mission is to drive improvement in the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare through information and technology,  has unveiled its first-ever Health IT Cancer Resources Guide, a comprehensive overview of the digital tools and technologies available today that help patients and their families, caregivers and support networks understand, treat and cope with cancer.

The guide lists 76 tools ranging from mobile applications to web sites to social networks that aim to improve cancer care. It was developed by eHI’s National Council on Cancer and Technology, which included representatives from American Cancer Society and American Society of Clinical Oncologists, and is organized in five sections: decision making, education, treatment management, social support and lifestyle management.

eHI developed the guide based on the findings of the Issue Brief on eHealth Tools and Cancer Care, a review of 124 articles, which examined how telemedicine, mobile health, internet-based technologies and social media are being used in cancer care today. The issue brief highlighted the meaningful impact eHealth tools have on care including the removal of geographic barriers, enhanced decision-making capabilities and improved patient-provider communication.

To view the full Health IT Cancer Resource Guide click here.

Posted in #HCSM, #HIT, Health Literacy, Research Reports

WHO Report on Health Care Literacy

Social media, a great information equalizer, is radically transforming the way people communicate around the world. Instant and borderless, it elevates electronic communication to near face-to-face. Until recently the predominant communication model was “one” authority to “many” – i.e. a health institution, the ministry of health or a journalist communicating to the public. Social media has changed the monologue to a dialogue, where anyone with ICT access can be a content creator and communicator. Health professionals should ensure that information is correct and accessible.

Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2009;87:566-566. doi: 10.2471/BLT.09.066712

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