Tag Archives: Consumer eHealth

Consumer or patient: What’s the difference?

I recently attended the annual Canadian eHealth conference, held this year for the first time at the new Ottawa Convention Centre. One of the themes that emerged during the conference, at least for me, was the role of the individual in their health and healthcare and the extent to which information and related technologies might change this role. Many speakers and participants spoke about the emergence of the Healthcare Consumer and some even suggested that their behaviour will shape future healthcare services. While I think that consumerism has a role to play in healthcare, I also believe that the traditional roles of patient and physician are not going to disappear anytime soon – nor should they.

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Yet another way that the South West LHIN is engaging vendors

Glenn Lanteigne and his team at the South West LHIN continue to find new and innovative ways to engage the vendor community.    Last fall they instituted the highly successful Vendor Friday series that offers individual vendors the opportunity to meet with LHIN staff plus invited members of the health community. Recognizing the opportunity that a quickly evolving and rapidly growing range of Consumer eHealth technologies presents, Glenn and his team recently announced the first Consumer eHealth Innovation session.

According to a recent chat with Glenn, the Consumer eHealth Innovations sessions will be held periodically throughout year so that vendors can meet with health service providers, physicians and others interested in emerging Consumer eHealth solutions to explore how these technologies can support the LHIN’s eHealth Strategic Plan. The first session will take place on  Thursday, June 30th, at the University of Western Ontario’s Research Park Convergence Centre.  The invitation on the South West LHIN web site states that attendees will “not only learn about the latest developments in personal health records, patient monitoring, consumer navigation of the health care system, and mobile technologies”, they will also “see how these and other tools support the LHIN’s eHealth Strategic Plan.”

Given the significant interest in Consumer eHealth, I expect that the limited number of spaces for this event will go quickly.  RSVP by June 23, either by calling 519-640-2592 or emailing Jordan.lange@LHINS.ON.CA.



Infoway turns to the “crowd” for ideas

I first heard about this idea last fall and thought it was a great way to engage a wider audience in coming with new ideas for how to use IT to transform healthcare services delivery. Infoway’s ImagineNation ideas challenges offers cash prizes for “bold, new ideas – or creative combinations of existing ideas.”

Ideas will be evaluated according to four criteria:

  1. Impact on Health and Health Care in Canada (30%)
  2. Innovation & Originality (30%)
  3. Effective Use of Technology (20%)
  4. Feasibility (20%)

A total of $35,000 in prize money is available and will be awarded as follows:

  • $100 for up to 50 top ideas
  • $250 for the idea that receives the most votes from Canadians (“Canada’s Choice” Award)
  • $5,000 for each of up to 5 top finalists
  • An additional $5,000 for the winning idea

The top ideas will be announced July 5th just after the Canada Day long weekend.   You can find more details here.

According to Infoway, they plan to “promote the leading ideas” though the exact details of how they will do so have not been specified.  As well, they are “considering future initiatives that may be informed by the best ideas“.

Overall, I think that the notion of a public “challenge” is a good way to raise greater awareness of the impact that IT can have on healthcare and to more meaningfully engage Canadians in Infoway’s mission.   The US First Lady, Michelle Obama, issued a similar challenge last year to develop mobile applications to combat childhood obesity and not only raised awareness about this growing problem but also stimulated development of some innovative mobile applications.

I do wish that the public input would have a greater impact on selecting the winning ideas.  Perhaps a more substantial cash award could be associated with the “people’s choice”.  Or, maybe the criteria could be adjusted so that public voting would factor into the choice of the top winners.




Happy New Year and an Apology

Happy New Year to our readers.  Both Mark and I are pleased that you take the time to read our blog posts and greatly appreciate your positive comments.  We look forward to interacting with you in 2011.

Like many people, I opted to take time off for the holiday season and generally unplugged from all online activities.  Just prior to taking time off I published a blog post exploring the concept of the roles that individuals play when using online health applications and resources.  This post generated several comments.  Unfortunately, since we moderate all comments on this blog, these comments were not reviewed and have not yet been approved for posting.  I apologize to those people who took the time to offer their feedback that I did not address these comments in a timely manner.


Americans Want Control Over Personal Health Information

Patient Privacy Rights, a non-profit organization claiming to be the nation’s health privacy watchdog, recently released the results of a survey that shows that a vast majority of Americans “want to be able to decide which individual people can see and use their health information.” To give individuals the level of control that they desire,
Patient Privacy Rights proposes the creation of a “one-stop shop” website where patients can decide who views their electronic health information, similar in concept to the national “do not call” lists introduced in the US and Canada to reduce unwanted telemarketing calls.

I wonder if Canadians have similar feelings about their personal health information? Any thoughts?


The Internet to Supplant Doctors as Primary Source of Health Information?

According to a FierceHealthcare article today, “online health information … likely will supplant doctors as the primary source of health information as consumers grow more eHealth savvy.” This conclusion is based on information contained in Manhattan Research’s most recent Cybercitizen Health U.S. survey which found that “About 169 million U.S. adults (or 72 percent of all adults) went online to research a health question in 2010, compared with 63 million in 2002.”

The article states that “information found online may lead the patient to skip seeing a doctor”.   The Cybercitizen survey found that “Some 99 million U.S. adults did at least one of the following after finding health information online:

  • Challenged their doctor’s treatment or diagnosis.
  • Asked that their doctor change the treatment.
  • Discussed information found online at an appointment.
  • Used the Internet instead of going to the doctor.
  • Made a healthcare decision based on online information.

ONC Seeks Input on Consumer eHealth Strategy

A recent post on the ONC blog seeks  input on their strategic goal to “Empower Consumers to Better Manage Their Health through Health IT”. Specifically, the ONC asks for input on two questions:

  • First, do you agree with the four objectives listed below?
  • Second, what specific activities would you like to see the federal government take on? See the bullet points below each objective for some starting ideas of possible activities.

The ONC’s strategic objectives for Consumer eHealth include:

  • Objective A. Engage consumers in federal health IT policy and programs
  • Objective B. Accelerate consumer access to electronic health information
  • Objective C. Foster innovation in consumer health IT
  • Objective D. Drive consumer-provider electronic communications


Healthcare, the consumer, and the entrepeneur

What happens when you combine consumer demand for more convenient delivery of healthcare services and the entrepreneurial spirit?  Services like Minneapolis-based  “Zipnosis”.  According to an article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, Zipnosis is intended to offer greater convenience for the treatment of “minor ailments like common colds, allergies or bladder infections.”    Using Zipnosis, patients fill out an online survey which is assessed by two nurse practitioners and electronically receive a diagnosis (and, if required, a prescription)  within a few hours.

I am not advocating for this type of service nor do I have the medical qualifications to assess the potential patient safety risks.  I do, however, think that it is an example of the type of services that baby-boomers, used to a trend towards greater convenience in other industries, will demand from the health sector.  Having watched the Internet disrupt other industries in response to consumer demand for more convenience and lower prices, I suspect we will see more creative offerings like Zipnosis.


One Patient, One Record – Dr. Jay Mercer

Dr. Jay Mercer is an Ottawa family physician who divides his time between a fully automated office and Medical Director of the Client Services group at MD Practice Solutions Inc.   Dr. Mercer speaks and writes frequently about practice automation for physicians groups across Canada and was involved in developing CMA’s physician website and patient portal.  Dr. Mercer’s presentation is entitled “Meeting Patients Online to Actively Manage Chronic Illness”.  Highlights include:

  • 2252 patients in portal (1535 with PHR data); 138 physicians actively using portal
  • Insights
    • Providing data to patients is very important; offer background information to prepare for next visit
    • Positive patient feedback; interested in using portal functionality
    • Patients will make good use of online access to their care providers
  • Primary conclusions
    • Most patients are already online – many are ahead of their physicians in online use
    • Health info from outside the office will help better manage chronic outcomes
  • Secondary conclusions
    • Oldest patients will be the biggest users
    • Patients can spell (and will correct your spelling)
    • Acceptable use needs training
    • Collect data in a structured manner or patients will invent their own structure


One Patient, One Record Symposium – Opening Remarks

Opening speaker is Kevin Leonard, Dept of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto and Founder, Patient Destiny.  Through Patient Destiny (www.patientdestiny.com), Dr. Leonard is working to expand the voice of the consumer in healthcare – the patient.  Kevin believes that the 1st step is to develop an effective eHealth system where patients have access to advance health informatics tools.

I have known Kevin for about five years and have been impressed by both his passion and his determination to effect change.  I share his view that patients need to be more engaged in their care and that information technology is a key ingredient to this engagement.

Highlights from Kevin’s opening presentation includes:

  • Through his direct experience with the healthcare system, Kevin has experienced first hand the difficulty in getting access to his personal health information.
  • Doesn’t feel that we have made nearly the progress that we should in deploying eHealth solutions.
  • eHealth – only way that patients can get access to their personal health information in any meaningful way.
  • Patient Destiny – three main objectives
    • Raise awareness of the power eHealth
    • Start pilot projects that get patients engaged in their own health through access to health information
    • Performing benefits evaluation
  • Shares his battle with Crohn’s disease as a case study of how the health system works today and could be improved through use of information technology.
  • Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Kevin has twenty healthcare providers and therefore many records
  • Patients today are capable of lowering demand on the healthcare system by helping them to manage their care
  • 70% to 80% of healthcare costs related to treating chronically patients
  • 30% to 40% has at least one chronic disease
  • Even small improvement in treating chronically ill patients can drive significant cost savings
  • Need more evidence re: impact of patients having access to their personal health information
  • Interoperability is key to realizing full benefits of eHealth – need to be able to create a comprehensive patient record with information from disparate systems
  • No one cares more about health outcomes than the patient!  Need to better engage this group.
  • Patients need to be represented by a formal organization and this organization must be invited to the table to dialog with the other organized stakeholders.