One Pill Makes You Larger and One Pill Makes You Small

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And the ones that you forget to take, don’t do anything at all.

A patient’s non adherence to their medication regimen is a well documented detriment to the healthcare field. This oft cited study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that direct costs related to medication non-adherence accounts for anywhere between $100b and $289b annually in the United States alone. These costs come from ER visits, hospitalizations, extra tests, etc. Not to be forgotten, an estimated 125,000 deaths each year can be traced back to non-adherence. These consequences are arguably preventable if viable systems were developed and used to improve medication adherence among the patient population.

Medication adherence does not simply refer to remembering to take the pill. Instead it implies adherence to the exact regimen that was prescribed by the physician to the patient. It may include taking the medication at a certain pre-determined interval (certain dates and times), after pre-determined actions (after a meal, before exercise), when health measures reach certain levels (blood pressure threshold or glucose levels). With many patients taking more and more prescribed medications as they age, these details become increasingly complex.

Sticking to the overall focus of this blog – In the US we have a population that is not only growing older but is also more knowledgeable and comfortable (hopefully) then ever in the use of information and communication technologies. It doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to see that the US is dealing with a real medication adherence problem and it doesn’t take an MBA to see the potential of a very lucrative business opportunity.

Some have tried to tap into this space and many have failed. Nobody has found the right formula yet so for now lets take a brief look at the past, the present, and most importantly the future of managing a patient’s medication adherence.

Continue reading “One Pill Makes You Larger and One Pill Makes You Small”

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Dr. HAL 9000 will see you shortly

Does your doctor speak to your health record? Does your health record speak to your pharmacist? Does your pharmacist speak to your pill bottle? Does your pill bottle speak to your blood pressure monitor? Does your blood pressure monitor speak to your watch? Does your watch speak to your phone? Does your phone speak to your doctor? Does your doctor speak to your health record?

Despite what Hal tells you, all of the technologies and infrastructures are in place that you CAN create an automated workflow of all the processes described above. The Internet of Things is bringing sensors and devices into the world of connected health and it is moving at such a rapid pace that there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Connected health means more than simply connecting with people who share your interests or conditions. The industry is witnessing an entirely new form of connectivity that refers to the connection between all of your devices (medical and otherwise) with regards to your health. It is evolving to a point where in the future much of the tasks performed by doctors and nurses will be relegated to a robot in the hospital or a device in your home. For better or worse, the human element is being removed from the point of care which as of today people aren’t quite ready for. I bet Hal is ok with it though…

Fair enough, but I agree with you Hal. In P’s opinion, this is the direction that healthcare NEEDS to go. It will benefit the research we conduct, it will benefit the care you give to yourself, and it will make patient quality of care outcomes as a whole better. It will not be without its faults but if you take action now to understand the ways in which your devices at home will integrate with your body and share that information with the devices at your clinician’s office – you will be healthier in the long run. We have the ability to remove the elements of human input error and biases while offering immediate communication between device, patient, and physician. What a world.

Ok Hal I get it, let’s examine some companies and ideas that are really innovating in this space.

Continue reading “Dr. HAL 9000 will see you shortly”

So your personal health records (PHR) are up to date. Now what?

You’ve compiled all of your medical discharge notes from birth to adulthood and digitized them. You’ve taken those medication lists and memories and compiled them into a spreadsheet you can access anywhere at anytime. You’ve contacted your physician’s office and had them export your up to the minute EHR notes and stats and stored them in the cloud…You looked like this woman.

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Right? Good. So what?

Well, first of all you are prepared to bring your health data with you when you move and travel in the case of standard or emergency care situations. Unfortunately the older we get the less we will remember but you have removed any recall biases by adding primary sourced health information for your future visits or any personal health research you conduct in the future. Fortunately, the older you get the more advanced these technologies will become and in turn more tools will be available to you to put this data to work. No need to wait though, as there are many ways to put this data to good work as soon as you’re ready. After the jump, join me and we’ll explore some avenues that your PHR can help you in the future using the power of ICT.

Continue reading “So your personal health records (PHR) are up to date. Now what?”

It’s 2015…Do you know where your personal health data is?

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Today we have the opportunity to bring as much information as we could ever want with us everywhere we travel. Access to cloud services are now simple, plentiful, and growing. Think of some things you might keep in the cloud today – email, work documents, music, movies, pictures – many of us utilizing these services have immediate access to all things digital that they could ever need. These are all personal files, so why isn’t your health data in there too?

During my days working in clinical research, all too often I would see a badly crumpled and stained piece of paper that listed every medication a patient had taken in their lives. There was often no way of telling which were current, what the correct dosage was, or who/why these medications were prescribed. Anyone working in a care setting has seen this before. Similarly, recalling one’s entire medical history by memory and inquisition is no small task and self report on medical issues from a non medically trained patient is not the most reliable source of information. There is a way to make this easier on you (as a patient) and your caregiver. If you are going to the same doctor for your entire life, maybe this post isn’t for you. For most of us though, this is an issue that you can remedy in a few days with minimal effort, you just can’t let the 1’s and 0’s intimidate you. Check out my advice after the jump.

Continue reading “It’s 2015…Do you know where your personal health data is?”

HIMSS 2015 is upon us

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With HIMSS 2015 right around the corner, could there be a better time to start a blog on health information and communications technology? I suspect not. For those who are unaware, HIMSS stands for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (another abbreviation!).

Once a year, HIMSS holds a conference that brings the best of the best in various industries that are “transforming health through information technologies.” This year is no different and will be held on April 12-16th in Chicago, IL. Over 35,000 professionals are attending to educate, network, and innovate.

Each year followers and attendees of the event are shown the newest technologies, cutting edge research, and the wild and crazy ideas that someday might turn to reality. It’s an event for industry and thought leaders to show off their new products, give a peak into their R&D pipelines, or simply to share and iterate on ideas that are shaping the field.

If you’d like to take part in the events but cannot make the trip to Chicago (like myself), this year HIMSS is offering an online virtual package for $49 allowing you live and on demand access to many of the learning opportunities being held over the next week. I’m registered and hope to update the blog with a variety of headlines stemming from the conference. I have highlighted sessions after the jump that will touch on aspects of ICT in personalized healthcare.

Continue reading “HIMSS 2015 is upon us”

What’s in a Name?

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From a patient’s perspective, the field of healthcare is notorious for it’s complex terms and seemingly infinite and ever changing acronyms. Clinicians are no stranger to adapting to this evolution either. With differences in nomenclature at the regional, institutional, and specialty levels, it can be difficult for anyone to navigate through the glossary of medicine. This becomes even more evident when new names and ideas are introduced in the form of new technologies available to the patient and care-giver alike. In fact, the Joint Commission has an official “Do Not Use” list for abbreviations, acronyms, and symbols in healthcare. You may have seen similar posters to the one below in your own doctor’s office in the past.

Fun right? Before engaging in serious discourse on ICT in personalized healthcare – we must define and understand what it all means. I will present many of the current descriptors and definitions used for the modern technologies transforming the healthcare ICT market. Proceed with caution, these names may be irrelevant in the future. Continue reading “What’s in a Name?”