Molecular Systems Biology | The Seven Stones

Consumer Health Information Technology

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I highly recommend to visit the NIH VideoCasting page, which hosts many interesting video/podcasts. Even if I realize that this is a bit old according to the blogosphere time scale, I would like to point to this one: “The Future: Consumer Health Information Technology”, featuring talks given at a NCI-sponsored meeting on Dec 10, 2007 by Adam Bosworth (formerly “Google Health architect”, now starting his own company Keas), Bern Shen (Intel) and Bill Crounse (Microsoft).

In his introduction to the meeting, Bradford Hesse (NCI) colorfully summarizes one of the main concepts exposed by the speakers (the video is very long, so I give some pointers: 0h16min43sec) by comparing the future of healthcare to…an “IKEA flat pack”: patients will progressively be empowered to assemble their own care from home, like they would build a piece of (cheap) furniture.

Adam Bosworth (0h25min53sec) presents his very pragmatic vision of how IT could concretely help healthcare (0h39min07sec): a) help the consumer to own and control his personal health data, and this already for very simple basic information; b) provide tools for doctors so that they can deliver personalized care as easily as producing a spreadsheet; c) develop tools for researchers to facilitate the design and implementation of new protocols and clinical trials.

Bill Crounse (Microsoft’s other Bill…1h14min30sec) sees 5 major current trends that will increasingly challenge the healthcare system and call for IT solutions (1h26min22sec): a) increasing personal responsibility (“the end of health insurance”); b) progressive “retailization” of healthcare services (eg appearance of “retail minute clinics”); c) commoditization of healthcare providers; d) globalization of access to information (through the web of course); e) globalization of healthcare services. I recommend his little funny anecdote on the high-tech GPS wireless-connected plumber (1h25min30sec) who appears to better equipped than any practicing physician…

The speakers also all insist on the need for massive data integration promoted by the interoperability of formats and coding information, themes that probably sound familiar to many systems biologists.

Toward the end of his talk (1h35min00sec), Bill Crounse shows a short “science-fiction” movie on Microsoft’s vision of the future of healthcare: a world full of credit-card sized tablet PCs, touch screens and many other very exciting gadgets (I love gadgets!). But I can’t help missing a bit the warmth of human-to-human interactions within this jungle of virtual consultations, retail clinics, remote controlled metabolic parameters, etc… and I didn’t quite see in that movie that the doctor would spend more time with his patient or the daughter with her sick Grandma. But this may of course only reflect some old-fashioned side of my temperament…

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