Since the theme this week appears to be technology let’s take a look at a few aspects of technology shaping health care and see how they apply to GVMH.
There are three broad technology trends playing out, each of which will shift the future of healthcare. One is size. The sheer scale of digital technology is astonishing. In 2015 alone, the world will produce data equal to 120,000 times the total of all previously written words in history. This statistic amazes me, in one year the data produced will be equal to 120,000 times what was previously produced in all of mankind! This data will be generated by exponentially more powerful computing, and then stored in the cloud, to be accessible there from a growing range of devices. Europeans now have, on average, more than one cell phone per person. Locals in Dubai tote nearly two.
The second is a shift towards personalization. All consumer trends point towards greater customization for individual needs. Websites like Amazon track your shopping habits and recommend goods accordingly, while other online services only display content or updates relevant to your specific needs. Just think if your health care provider could track your eating, exercise or medication habits. Do you think that would change your actions?
Third is that technology is more social than ever before. Networks such as Facebook, the most visited site in the US, have helped establish online communities of engaged users. Consumers increasingly create their own content and access what has been created by others. Social networks are not just a place to find friends. They are becoming platforms for content creation, idea sharing, and self-service. Some government agencies and technology companies have even deployed social software platforms for users to take over certain government functions and to provide each other first-level help desk functions. If you’ve ever had a problem with your iPhone and have gone to the Apple website for help you get instruction from another user not a paid staff member. These networks, not only lower business costs, but also make users feel more engaged and in control, creating a feeling of ownership within the larger organization.
When it comes to healthcare, these developments can and will be applied in a huge variety of ways. Take for instance these three examples:
- Gaming is an established Internet activity with huge potential. Healthcare professionals, as seen through Wii Fit Plus, a popular exercise system developed by Nintendo, have begun to exploit people’s natural tendency to play games to improve cognitive skills and change behavior. GVMH’s rehab staff currently utilize the Wii as a part of their treatment options for certain patients.
- Telehealth is another example offering patients remote access to healthcare professionals and has major advantages over traditional methods of delivery. It’s not just about meeting the needs of the underserved. It is a means of improving care for the already served. While still providing face-to-face care, telehealth gives each patient access to more than one doctor at a time and can further enhance a patient’s understanding of his or her own health, making the experience more personal. Telehealth is a technology that GVMH has recently deployed and will be used in the ED setting to speed neurological and psychiatric diagnosis and placement.
- Health-specific social networks help practitioners deliver services and enable patients to play an active role in their care. By sharing and collaborating with others on similar health experiences and conditions, patients and practitioners build relationships, ask more questions and become, pioneers in the healthcare process. As GVMH moves forward with the Medical Home Model we will be exploring the appropriate use of social media to drive compliance.
Technology is a game changer and fortunately for our community GVMH embraces technology.