All this debate about healthcare has me sick.  Not literally thank god, but it's getting pretty old.  Taking to my traditional stance of staying out of political debate, I've decided to take my interest in healthcare down a different avenue: The future of healthcare being social.  

I found an awesome presentation on the future of healthcare and all of the technological advancements surrounding it on a site called Fast Company.  It's a centralized website consisting of bloggers from all over the country writing articles on the advancement of design and technology.  The presentation on healthcare is what truly got me.

I've always been a big thinker, but more often than not, my thoughts are not within the realms of medicine.  My eyes are now opened though, and I'm ready to share my discovery with you.  Below I'll highlight some of the ideas presented on the future of healthcare.  These are big ideas that might not happen for a while, but it's a great conversation topic for those of us not quite ready to jump into the politics of it all.  

Too Busy To Be Healthy
In the near future, we may be seeing a rise in medical professionals.  We might even see the introduction of "family health managers" whose responsibilities will be to work closely with doctors and physicians to manage and maintain health records for families.  Sounds basic right?  Well, this is the future we're talking about.

These managers will be in charge of sending records to patients via social networks, mobile devices, and staying up to date with family healthcare on an almost 24/7 basis.  For example, in this photo below, two days after a leg scan for a sore knee, Susan receives a text message letting her know which stretches she needs to do and provides links with videos that will show her the stretches.  No phone calls, no emails, and an automatic solution to medical problems.

Networked Devices | Healthier Communities
Through connected network devices, individuals will be in constant connection with family, pharmacists, healthcare providers, friends, and any individual who needs to be in-the-know on healthcare issues.  For example, in the picture below, Joey is sick and with the click of a button, the mother's work, Joey's teacher, dad, the doctor, and the pharmacist can all know of his illness.
Devices That Gather Data For Us
Rather than attend routine checkups, we will wear a monitor during activity and weigh ourselves on a scale weekly.  The information gathered will be digitally entered into our healthcare database and can be viewed at any time by our doctors, our physicians, our healthcare manager, or us as individuals.  Any imperfections or abnormalities will automatically be detected as to prevent concerning issues.
Improving Healthcare Dynamics
As you'll see in the picture below, there are certain healthcare dynamics that can be improved upon.  For example, if you wake up sick, why should you immediately have to call the doctor.  Instead, pull out your at-home strep test, swab your tongue, and follow the directions from there.  It would save time for those who don't have a serious sickness, and provide guidance for those who do.
Making Sense of the Numbers | Learning Over Time
Imagine having a mirror in your house that determined all of your vital signs just from standing in front of it.  Risk of melanoma?  The mirror will monitor your skin condition and report results to the healthcare manager.  Not a day will go by with something unnoticed.  If the risk of melanoma goes away, you can take that off of your records and the mirror will no longer monitor it.  Overweight or obese?  Stand in front of the mirror and it will measure your body fat percentage and monitor it day to day.  The healthcare manager will be alerted if anything becomes concerning.  The list goes on and on.
Finding Meaning & Strength Through Social Groups
Swapping healthcare stories between friends and families can now be done in real time.  Charts and diagnostics can be shared amongst whomever you'd like to share.  People with certain ailments can be connected via private social networks.  There will be an "openness philosophy" that states, "When patients share real-world data, collaboration on a global scale becomes possible.  We have much to gain from information and from each other.  In the example below, Sharon is not only getting satisfaction in sharing her story with others, but she is also learning by comparing her statistics with other people of the same diagnosis.  For example, if she is diabetic, she can log into a social network of others just like her who post recipes, articles on the disease, and provide insight on how they live their lives to the fullest despite the condition.
Monitoring Leads To Changing
This is the one technology that is already being tapped into today.  Group exercise through social technology.  Imagine you're diagnosed with a heart condition.  You must begin exercising if you want to get back to a normal state.  You can be recommended a virtual workout partner with the same condition who can help you stay on track with exercising.  In the picture below you can see two partners running virtually with one another.  They can then go home, track their stats, and communicate with one another via an online network.  All of this information can then be sent directly to the healthcare professionals to monitor any positive or negative health changes.  This can already be seen with the Nike + performance chip that can be placed in shoes.  A great idea to keep individuals motivated backed by a virtual  community devoted to exercise.
I'm not getting involved with the Healthcare debate.  It's just not my interest.  What I am interested in is the future of healthcare and the social technologies being built to support it.  These ideas I've shared with you today are just the beginning.  It's going to take years to invent and implement these technologies, but it should prove to be well worth the wait.  

I hope this was as interesting to you as it is to me.  I don't visit the doctor enough to know the ins and outs, but I can imagine the possibilities for those who do.  As usual, I'm always open to comments, questions, ideas, and opinions.   I think this is brilliant stuff, but I might need my head examined. 

Original Article by
Jennifer Kilian
Creative Director, frog design
Barbara Pantuso 
Director of Health Care Innovation, frog design

Future of Health Care Is Social PDF

10/29/2009 06:44:15 am

This is an interesting take on the health care craziness that is going on right now. As someone who hates going to the doctor and taking medicine, being able to access all of this information through my phone or computer would be ideal. Really cool!


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