Healthcare in our current technology-based society is much different than the Healthcare our parents experienced during the post-war era and it is primarily the free flow of information that is facilitating this change. Information provided through the Internet and Social Media combined with the personal experiences of patients being shared through Social Networking is changing the way we care for ourselves, rapidly turning patients into their own providers.
The current state of healthcare is not in-line with what is happening in our opt-in society where annoyances can be blocked, removed, and/or completely ignored. A society where information on every topic is freely available to be granularly selected and then accessed through the technology device of our choosing.
The depersonalization / fragmentation of medical care, and the dehumanizing effects of our current patient/provider system will not be tolerated when up-to-date information and the real-world experiences of patients, ‘Like Me’, are freely available.
The Information provided by trusted peers may have more impact on self-care than information provided by physicians that struggle to keep up to date. The experiences of those who share their self-care triumphs and failures online may be more influential then advice from a provider that has no personal experience living with the specific condition.
Sites such as Patients Like Me, are connecting individuals with chronic illnesses and transforming self-care. Individuals suffering from a variety of conditions are managing them through the shared experiences of their peers. The evidence of change in self-care behavior as the result of being a member of a site like Patients Like Me is clear, as reported in a recent a survey of their members:
In addition to these social spaces and Internet-based resources of information such as WebMD, there are new devices and technologies that bring the medical office into the home. Devices that not only help to manage chronic illnesses but to monitor and maintain your general health.
An example of technology that has the potential to revolutionize healthcare is called “Remote Healthcare Management”. Remote healthcare management can include an array of wireless medical devices (such as scales, glucose and heart monitors, drug dispenser, Asthma flow meter, etc.) that are connected to a base that has a web-cam and acts as a data aggregator, directly linked to your provider.
In order for this shift in health care to be fully realized it is medical billing that must shift from a fee-for-service model to a salaried model. Physicians deserve to be paid for their services, but in order for patients to be fully empowered and for communication lines between patient and provider to be opened, medical care to patients must be provided through contractual agreements between business and governmental units and medical providing groups to ensure providers are paid for their services and patients have remote access to providers.
The world in which we live has changed dramatically; there are many technology-based tools available that can improve our health, but are currently stymied as a result of the fee for service structure. There is great hope for healthcare in the future, but for these advances to be fully realized drastic change is needed – and in my view, it starts with providing remote access to providers by solving the fee-for-service barrier.