Connected Health Symposium 2011 Day 1

The first day of Connected Health was a whirlwind of conferences, free coffee, and constant Twitter communication. Being in Boston, it’s easy to take the excellent medical community for granted – but, as yesterday showed me – they are really smart and doing some incredible things for patients. It was awesome to just be in the presence of these analytic attendees with similar goals – get patients better care.

Whether the focus was on innovation of care or how important it is to get back to what’s truly important – there was a lot to learn. The predominant voice at the panels was the healthcare professional and physician perspective. Which was refreshing for me because, believe it or not, their voice is sorely missed in our super-connected, ever-moving world of social media. They’re busy. And busy doing things that go oft unseen online – but are still so important to factor in to the conversation. It was great to hear (and see) what they’re busy doing. My consensus so far is probably no surprise:we need to continue to bring more Health Activists here to share their narratives and spread the word of healthcare innovation.

Top Takeaways from Connected Health Symposium Day 1:

— The greater the disparity between the richest percentage of people and the poorest percentage, the greater the health problems that occur. This applies to mental health, in particular. If you were to get political about your health condition and healthcare – this might be a great catalyst.

— Games are where healthcare is going – at least with regards to overall adherence and children’s care. Check out the game Re-mission to see how children are learning about their cancer, “fighting it” in a game, and actually improving their outcomes by doing so. Pretty incredible stuff.

— The anonymity debate is still brewing under the surface of the online conversation. No one really spoke to it specifically but the idea is there – especially with regards to online community. When you’re making a health game – how do you want to make the avatars? Do you want it to represent the patient or be something more creative. Which do you think members of your would rather have?

— Adherence is still a big issue in healthcare in general and apparent in all of the difference panels here – but what questions aren’t being asked? We all agree adherence is a problem – but why? And how can patients (and Health Activists in particular) help move toward greater adherence and, what’s really at the heart of adherence – better outcomes, care, and overall health?

— Physicians should not only prescribe games to newly diagnosed (or consistent) patients – but also patient communities, blogs, and online forums. This is something Health Activists live every day – proof that we are social animals and that our social interaction starts with that feeling we talk about so often “finally, I’m not alone” and moves from there into some pretty powerful teamwork and better living.

— “Physicians value the patient narrative and want to combine it with necessary clinical data.” To that I say – be in touch! Patients want to tell their story. They just need to find the place where they feel comfortable sharing it – which may be online right now. Go where they are. Ask patients what they think. They will tell you. And, through their communities, will aggregate what their friends (and fellow patients) think. (As we learned in the session on behavior: your friends (and online connections) say a LOT about you and what you will do.)

— For healthcare to improve it must: 1) recognize failure/success 2) innovate solutions 3) work on implementation and pay attention to scale 4) prioritize.

The XPrize Foundation is willing to give out $10 million to someone who innovates healthcare. When inventors and creators compete – we all win. I’d be interested to see where this goes and how we can get what inner scientific work is going on – out to the public. Inquiring minds want to know!

— Great quote everyone seemed to love (via the XPrize presentation) : “Health care isn’t rocket science. It’s harder.”

— People here are absolutely fascinated with Facebook and its potential as a way to reach people. To that I say – well, YEAH! But let’s not get too wrapped up in the medium with which this community is being presented (Facebook, itself) but what is actually going on there. The connections, the knowledge being shared, the improvement of emotional well-being, treatment discussions, etc.

— Social networks influence conscious decisions. Looking at who your friends are online, alone, can predict how you will behave 50% of the time. That’s pretty huge. I’d like to see this idea applied to patient communities, health blogs and their readerships, and who we talk to online that are in our conditions.

— 75% of patients prefer to speak to the new virtual nurse (Louise) than an actual healthcare professional. This may be because they feel they have the time to interact and share their true feelings with Louise and aren’t rushed by a real doctor/nurse. How do you feel about this idea? Would you feel comfortable “telling” your symptoms (logging them into the computer) than telling a real live doctor? I think the potential here is great but only time will tell if will work consistently and if patients will feel comfortable actually using a Louise-type virtual nurse.

Lots more to learn today at CHS11 – so follow along with the conversation on Twitter (#chs11) and look out for my full recap next week!


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