Monthly Archives: July 2012

What is good health to you?

Health is personal.

My definition of ‘I am pretty healthy’ will probably mean something very different to what ‘being healthy’ means to you. No surprises there.

When we’ve spoken with people about this topic it has been something of a surprise to hear people’s different definitions and how they describe their current health.

What I know for sure, is that my definition does not always agree with my physician’s view.

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So my doctor told me to reduce my stress levels

What a wonderful new world.

OK. I know I needed to reduce my stress levels and get more exercise, so this sounded like the perfect solution. I’m an animal lover and have had a number of German Shepherds over the years and they have all turned out to be great companions. Great stress relievers and a terrific form of forced exercise.


I had forgotten how much hard work a puppy is. Particularly a German Shepherd puppy.

And this one is smart! She had us completely fooled. When we picked her up she was an angel. Quiet. Contented. Very cuddly. But that was a con!

Two weeks later we have a tornado on our hands. A very lovable one to be sure, but a tornado none the less.

Over the months her exploration of her world have certainly help me de-stress after a hard day at the office and the early morning walks in the park are a delight that sets the tone for the beginning of a new day.

What’s this to do with healthcare? Not a lot for you., but I am sure Nina has made an impact on my health. After all, pet owners do live longer (should be, probably is, a bumper sticker!).

Why are we not seeing the impact of new innovations in technology driving down the cost of healthcare delivery and improving patient outcomes?

English: US Healthcare Spending

English: US Healthcare Spending (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In all aspects of life we are seeing the tremendous impact of technology, and the price of that technology continues to decrease every year.

Why is it then that we are yet to see widespread impact of technology delivering better patient outcomes at a lower cost? I’m not talking about technologies as used in the operating theatre, or in diagnostics, we can discuss another time. But in how healthcare is delivered.

Remote patient monitoring, telemedicine, patient support via smart phones and contact centres have been around for many years, but we have only seen pilots and tests and are yet to see wide adoption of these approaches.

Or am I wrong?

What needs to happen for us to see these innovations become mainstream?

So let’s talk about telemedicine as an example.

It seems pretty clear that providing patients and healthcare consumers with access to healthcare, (support, information needs, direct contact with providers etc) without the need to the visit physicians office or attend hospitals, via smart phones or the web, providing access to key medical practitioners over the phone, and easier access to vital information seems to make sense. That it would be cheaper, quicker, and more convenient seems self-evident.

Yet telemedicine is not standard practice – not a standard tool used by health systems around the world. Why not?

I’ve seen great examples of pilots deployed to test the concept. Even some good examples that demonstrate significant benefits but still healthcare systems seem reluctant to fully engage with this approach.

What is it going to take to enable these technologies to become mainstream in a healthcare system near you?