What’s in a Name? The Scoop on Connected Health
Some of the buzzwords surrounding healthcare for 2014, so far: eHealth, telemedicine, wireless health, mobile health. Seeing a trend? While the fancy names and technologies are grabbing the headlines, the driving force behind this intersection of health and technology is simple – it’s all about empowering people.
With the ability to make salon appointments online, buzz someone into your residence remotely by using your cell phone, and deposit cheque to your bank accounts using a mobile camera becoming the standard – people are expecting these conveniences to also be mirrored in their day-to-day healthcare needs.
But it’s not just about convenience. It’s also about cost. Even with changes to the healthcare marketplace in recent months, many Americans continue to struggle to find affordable, quality care. Experts say one of the key ways to lower costs of while increasing the excellence of care is for health professionals to embrace and accept new technologies.
These sentiments were recently on display at a recent Politico event, Connected in Health. This month the D.C., policy-based publication launched a new, permanent reporting division dedicated to eHealth, but the question remains – what exactly is eHealth?
That is a question one of the event panelists, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, hopes to answer during her first year at as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In her previous position as health commissioner for the city of New Orleans, Dr. DeSalvo experienced the absolute chaos caused in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when medical records at many of the city’s hospitals were completely destroyed. It was her “ah ha” moment – if those records had been on a cloud or database, the paper wouldn’t have been lost.
After the storm, DeSalvo said it “got real” for doctors and health professionals in New Orleans. People were in the mindset to change the broken system after seeing the negative implications post-Katrina. DeSalvo hopes to instill that desire into the federal healthcare system proactively, instead of reactively.
It’s not an easy task. While improved technology around healthcare services empower consumers, the “core of care” still lies in the patient-provider relationship. Any platform must recognise this, and recognise the need for flexibility and accessibility for people — in different geographies, income brackets, and stages of life – to be active participants.
While there are many questions surrounding “what’s next?” for eHealth, it is certain the conversation is only growing bigger. Expect to see continued demand from consumers, an uptick in public-private partnerships to fund and expand health technology programs, and a firmer definition from HHS on the framework of eHealth, as well as continued curiosity from the media on this growing area of interest.