Democratizing Health Information

By Frank Tucker | Feb 1, 2013

With Mean­ing­ful Use, we have seen a sig­nif­i­cant increase in the use of Elec­tronic Health Records. To sup­port con­ti­nu­ity of care, health infor­ma­tion exchanges have also expanded. Though health infor­ma­tion is being lib­er­ated, we still have a long way to go for patient-​centric health infor­ma­tion. We must advance from the age of data and infor­ma­tion to the age of knowl­edge and wis­dom. To do so, infor­ma­tion must be trans­formed into some­thing use­ful not only at the point of care for clin­i­cal deci­sion sup­port, but also for the patients to bet­ter man­age their health.

Patients are more knowl­edge­able of their health than ever before and often lever­age con­sumer health infor­ma­tion avail­able on the inter­net to make deci­sions. Unfor­tu­nately, we do not see that wide­spread embrace with non-​consumer health tech­nolo­gies such as Per­sonal Health Records. The ques­tion is how do we turn this wealth of health infor­ma­tion into some­thing more mean­ing­ful? How can we trans­form health infor­ma­tion to knowl­edge and share insights so patients make bet­ter deci­sions for bet­ter health out­comes? How do we empower patients through tech­nol­ogy to be more engaged in their health? How do we democ­ra­tize health infor­ma­tion… freely shar­ing knowl­edge and inno­va­tion with oth­ers by cre­at­ing com­mu­ni­ties rich with patient empow­er­ment? These types of ques­tions were addressed recently in a panel dis­cus­sion by HIMSS NCA titled “Health­care Con­sumerism: Empow­er­ing the Patient.” The expert pan­elists artic­u­lated the chal­lenges they faced in what we call a triple helix envi­ron­ment of academia, indus­try and gov­ern­ment. They enlight­ened us all on the ben­e­fits, chal­lenges, and future of pro­vid­ing patients with use­ful and per­ti­nent med­ical infor­ma­tion and tools. The dis­cus­sion was not cen­tered around the debate of patient vs con­sumer but the philosophy of con­sumerism in health that ulti­mately empow­ers the patient through advo­cacy, engagement and empowerment.

One of the great­est con­trol­lable fac­tors to improv­ing patient out­comes is active patient par­tic­i­pa­tion in pre­ven­tive health and care plan­ning. For exam­ple, stud­ies demon­strate that the more non-​compliant the patient is with their follow-​up visit plan fol­low­ing bariatric surgery, the higher the like­ly­hood of fail­ure. The same logic could be applied with pre­ven­tive health screen­ings such as hyper­ten­sion. The more active patients are in the annual blood pres­sure screen­ing, the higher the like­li­hood of early detec­tion for treat­ment. The ear­lier the patient is treated, the less likely they will progress with hyper­ten­sive com­pli­ca­tions given the appro­pri­ate treat­ment and com­pli­ance. To date, most of the infor­ma­tion to help the active patient has been pas­sive in nature. For exam­ple, the patient is given lab results in their Per­sonal Health Record. The ques­tion is what should they do with this result? Do they need to fol­low up? Should they be con­cerned? Cer­tainly, approaches like secure mes­sag­ing can help how­ever; it still doesn’t empower the patient. Clin­i­cal deci­sion sup­port sys­tems help the clin­i­cian make bet­ter deci­sions. Why shouldn’t it do the same for patients?

We have sev­eral projects we are work­ing on at Micro­Health to pro­vide mean­ing­ful tools to help empower the health con­sumer. Micro­Health Patient Deci­sion Sup­port sys­tem (mPDSS) project is designed to take infor­ma­tion that is typ­i­cally pas­sive such as Per­sonal Health Record and makes them active. mPDSS is a patient deci­sion sup­port engine that will help patients actively man­age their health such as pre­ven­tive ser­vices and med­ical con­di­tions though the con­ve­nience of their mobile device. Based on data from an elec­tronic med­ical record, per­sonal health record or self-​entered, the engine will help the patient know when they are due an immu­niza­tion, when they should have a colonoscopy, what tests they should be doing to bet­ter man­age their dia­betes or post bariatric surgery fol­low up plan. Trans­form­ing data to action, mPDSS will help acti­vate the patient in the care plan­ning and man­age­ment process.


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