HIMSS14 Blog Carnival: Why Consumers Care About Health IT

This is the first of a series of blog carnivals across the web before #HIMSS14 starts in 9 days (gulp!). The Blog Carnival is hosted by #HIMSS14 Social Media Ambassadors and this week Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) is the host on Health 2.0 News. But the actual work and writing was done by Kim Krueger (@kqkrueger). For a collection of all the Carnival Round-Up posts from this year’s event, please visit the HIMSS Blog to find links to the posts from each of the Social Media Ambassadors.

It’s here. Almost. #HIMSS14. And for this first time attendee, it will be a long haul across the country – just enough time on the ground in Austin to grab some decent BBQ for lunch – to arrive at what can only be described as the epicenter of HIT. A true epicenter, mind you: “the zone directly above the point where the fault beings to rupture, and in most cases, it is the area of greatest damage” (Thanks, Wikipedia).

The Health IT movement has certainly been disruptive, and in some ways, our best-laid plans have gone awry. EMRs, which can make physicians more efficient and improve medical outcomes, are oftentimes as difficult to handle as a nine year-old scared of needles. For consumers, there’s more health apps and gadgets than days in the year, but as we’re beginning to see, these aren’t quite doing the trick in terms of bringing health IT to the people.

So we’ve reached the rupture point, the epicenter, driven in part by the collision of the consumer and provider worlds of health IT. We still have a ways to go in terms of figuring out how all the pieces are going to meaningfully fit together, but one thing we do know is that we’ve made a good start in getting consumers to care about HIT.

With that, let’s take a look at what some friends around the web have to say about why HIT matters to consumers:

Know Your Data, Control Your Story

Janice Nicholson at i2iSystems points to data, with the consumer and patient in mind, as the key to care and engagement. As Nicholson says, data has the potential to tell detailed stories about organizational performance, but it is important to have the right technology to manage and leverage your data. The typical consumer might find all this a bit dry, but the key for consumers is to know that data on the provider side of health care means medicine “is no longer just about providing care – it is about getting involved in the patient’s care”.

Why All Hospitals Are Also Digital Companies

James Dias at the ePatient Experience blogs that hospitals are no exception to the new rule that “everyone is in the technology business.” Various stats, like the rise of online banking and Pizza Hut earning $2 billion from online sales, bolster his argument that patient consumers will want to interact digitally for convenience’s sake. Online banking got a slow start as well, but patients will thank hospitals who act now to engage them with digital health tools.

Why Health IT Matters to Consumers

The OnRamp blog featured a piece on why health IT matters to consumers and asserted that health IT is directly linked to the mission of health care to improve care for patients. Beyond the possibility of tech to improve business processes in health care, HIT, and in particular, data, make better care possible. This alone is reason enough for consumers to care.

Why Health IT (Should) Matter to Consumers

Our good friend Jane Sarasohn-Kahn wrote on her blog, HealthPopuli, that the health care system needs to “get real about how to connect the consumer, patient and caregiver to the supply side of their health information.” Sarasohn-Kahn took a slightly different tack, calling on us in the field to bolster existing digital health tools and take on the social marketing challenge to make consumers more aware and appreciative.

Gamifying Health IT For Patients and Physicians

Dave Levy wrote on HealthyComms that perhaps the trick to getting physicians to use Health IT more effectively is to challenge them to think in the way they use consumer tech. This may foster greater consumer appreciation for health IT as well because consumers will be able to relate to their clinician typing away in the exam room much in the way they understand a friend pausing mid-conversation to check-in on Facebook.

Patients Will Soon Have Unfettered Access to Their Lab Results

Michael Simon wrote on Arcadia about how Health IT, whether we want it or not, is bringing more access for patients to their lab results and data. In other words, HIT may eventually force transparency in health. This shift in data ownership represents a step towards using data to help patients become instruments of their own wellness, which is a step in the right direction.

The Time is Now

Finally, Nadine Robin wrote on the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum that by understanding the value of health IT and the role it plays in the delivery of our health care, we can all be empowered patients. Her post focuses on telemedicine in rural Louisiana, and makes an especially strong point as to why consumers should, will, and do care about HIT. She writes, “the dedicated doctors who care for us can only do so much — it is up to us, as patients, as health care consumers, to…become engaged in our care, and learning how to use health IT to our advantage is the first step.”

UPDATE— a valuable latecomer as on the Health Innovation Network (or whatever he and Pat Salber are calling it this week) Gregg Masters interviews superstar activist and artist Regina Holliday who’ll be at HIMSS telling her story. <snark>Well done HIMSS on catching up on Regina only 4 years 3 years after the rest of us….</snark>

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