The Future Shape of Health and Care Management

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by: Dick Stroud

My Outlook inbox contained two totally disconnected e-mails containing links that illustrate how care and health management in the future might (will) be managed.

I don’t know what it is like outside the UK but the health and care services provided by the Government, and much of the private sector, use a level of IT that Noah would toss out of the Ark and demand something more modern.

Every shrill article in the media about the ageing population is accompanied by dire predictions of how the health and care services will implode and that people (mainly 50-plus) must take more responsibility for their own health and care. They may be right.

One thing that could make a big difference is the application of the latest concepts of the Web.
Arjan in’t Veld told me about a US outfit called Lotsa Helping Hands that is a free online volunteer caregiving coordination tool. Basically it applies social networking functionality to a specific issue of coordinating care for an individual. What a brilliant idea.

So far there are 8,000 Lotsa Helping Hands communities. The company has partnered with organisations like the Alzheimer’s Association, American Lung Association, Lance Armstrong Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society providing co-branded services they offer to their members.

The other development is the concept of owning your own medical data and using Google or Microsoft tools for its management. This appeared in an article in Technology Review.
Google and Microsoft want to do the same thing for personal health that software such as Quicken has already done for people’s personal finances. Google Health (released in May) and Microsoft HealthVault (launched last October) allow consumers to store and manage their personal medical data online. Users will be able to gather information from doctors, hospitals, and testing laboratories and share it with new medical providers, making it easier to coordinate care for complicated conditions and spot potential drug interactions or other problems. Both Google and Microsoft will also offer links to third-party services like medication reminders and programs that track users’ blood-­pressure and glucose readings over time.

Are you getting the picture? It looks to me like we will have the providers of care and health services using clapped out IT whilst consumers will be expecting/demanding/needing to use Web 2.0 and Cloud technologies.

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