Sunday, April 3, 2016

Behavior Change Driving Digital Health is Bubbling Up from the Bottom

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This week marks one month since ePharma Summit 2016 opened and closed. It’s a good time to reflect on a final takeaway from the conference and close my notebook.

Clearly, there is more grand thinking about the future and emphasis on the promise of digital health at this point than in the celebration of successes. But that isn’t to say there aren’t a few current successes and some projects underway that will start to bear fruit even as I write this.
The most important aspect of digital health that I learned at the ePharma Summit was that patients are truly at the center of any advances in the use of healthcare technology to achieve lower cost, higher quality and improved outcomes. After all, it’s the patients who need answers who are behind the rapid uptake of any promising health or wellness application that might offer hope, support, and solid answers.
Stupid Cancer Show founder Matthew Zachary at the ePharma Summit 2016
Stupid Cancer Show founder Matthew Zachary said emphatically he has legions of Millennials with cancer using apps and participating in peer support who freely offer their information for healthcare professionals who can use it to advance a cure. It’s there for the taking, and it is being offered enthusiastically.
Another informational session featured the developers and founders of GI Health, an app that helps diagnose and support patients who have GI symptoms so they can provide accurate and potentially life-saving information to their gastroenterologists.
On the marketing side, another app tracks physician online interactions to help pharmaceutical companies get product information to prescribers at the point of making treatment decisions.
The bottom line here is that there are plenty of players from the patient, provider and payer worlds who already have their heads in the game. Expect any moment that this 24/7 interactivity with health information will reach critical mass and change the whole game of caring for patients.
One of my favorite health IT gurus wrote a blog recently wondering how we will move the needle in healthcare. John Lynn at EMR & HIPAA says health IT companies have been throwing solutions at the patient wall for years, but concludes ultimately it is a fail.

“Lately, I’ve become more and more interested in what will really move the needle in healthcare IT. Plus, I’ve been thinking through how most health IT companies approach their solutions and how the methods we’ve been using for years are failing so many patients in healthcare. As part of this analysis I’ve been discovering a need for healthcare IT companies to spend more time and focus on the behavioral side of things than they do today,” John wrote.

True behavior change is coming from the bottom up; it will not be driven from the top down. For stakeholders in the outcome of the digital health revolution – and that is all of us – look at the change already bubbling up from the bottom to see the behaviors that are changing the present reality of healthcare right under our noses.
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