We want to own our health story

Today I sat in the Health Workforce Australia conference and listened to a great discussion about health professionals needing to be more consumer focused. I can imagine similar conversations about social networking pre-Facebook. Maybe it’s just me but I’m imagining a disruptive change and it may not be that far away.

I’m convinced that consumers, particularly young consumers will be far more engaged in owning their health. However they just don’t have the tools – yet. We’re already hearing that consumers are far less concerned about disclosure and sharing health details on Facebook than we ever imagined so one has to ask where the barrier is?

Once consumers ‘own’ the information about their own health information, I believe many more than we imagine will start to use it to manage their health universe. I can imagine them dragging and dropping their ideal health team into a space equivalent to friends on Facebook or contacts on LinkedIn. I can imagine a health ‘timeline’ and a people you might want to know (because they share your health challenges). Maybe I’ve set some categories for my information and I’ve decided who can view each category.

I move through to a drag and drop funding allocation screen where I can allocate my pool funding with recommendations based on other consumers allocations and a mix of consumer and professional views on efficacy. Maybe I can bid to access services or maybe I can tender my health needs out to ensure I can buy a bundle of services at a good price. I can see what I’ve spent and what government has contributed to my care costs. I can see how this compares to others with similar attributes – not because of cost management but because I’m genuinely concerned about being responsible (and maybe there’s a bonus on my tax for saving money)

I need a new script and a few questions online results in a protocol driven prescription. My GP had to approve it as we agreed that this should happen as I’m a little nervous about my condition. I booked a consultation online with the GP and gave a description of the problem – the system matched the problem to a practice nurse skilled in my problem. The nurse is available sooner which suits me.

Before I go to hospital, the app suggests a vacancy at a local GP practice given my self reported problem. If I turn up to a hospital, I can check in using an app and I can see live data on triage and waiting lists. My health team (including my specified family and carers) is notified if its serious (based on my preset flags) and all of my care preferences can be seen on any authorised iPhone, iPad or Google vision glasses. My check in tells me that my friend is in a short stay room so I go and sit with her.

As staff change shift, I see them join my care team for the day and I see a photo – I see Mary shares my interest in poodles. I choose my meal preference and take a look at my X-rays which I can’t read so I’ll put it on my list of questions for my doctor. The advanced practice nurse arrives and sees the question on her google glasses, she answers my X-ray question which I’d forgotten all about. I chat online with three other people I the ward. That Dave guy is hilarious so we had coffee.

Finally, I sit down and read my health story. I look at the outcome measures (validated of course) that I redo from time to time. I check the graphs and reflect on my journey; broken finger from cricket, gastroscopy video, blood sugar reading scare, a spate of urine infections. I think I’m doing a reasonable job so far. I’m learning the language used in my health story and I’m interested and engaged. I now own my health story, it’s part of my life; I might even publish it on Facebook.

This change requires vision, commitment and resources – but no new technology.

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