Health 2.0 is often subtitled ‘consumer-generated health care,’ possessing a spirit of personal activism and self-directedness in the use of technology. In an increasingly web savvy culture, where health and health care are not only important but are also costing us more in out-of-pocket expenses, it’s no great surprise that health care consumers are taking to Health 2.0 web sites and services in droves.
Surveys now indicate that over 80% of the adult population in the U.S. has performed a medically-related search on Google, and over 10% of people with high speed Internet connections do at least one health search every day. In fact, the Pew Internet and American Life Project reports that 75% of online patients with a chronic problem said that ‘their last health search affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition."
However, there are very clear signals that consumers and patients don’t want Health 2.0 to substitute for a relationship with their doctors. In fact, just the opposite: they want their doctors to help them understand how to best utilize the new Internet resources, and to guide their experiences to the best sites and the most valuable web services. A recent Deloitte survey on consumers and their use of the Internet for health and health care found that ‘nearly 80% want doctors to provide online services,’ and one in four respondents said they were willing to pay for these services. The study concludes that ‘in general, consumers want access to more information, are looking for better service, and believe their physicians should make better use of information technologies.’
What if these two concepts were to collide? We hope the collision would be similar to the original accidental mixture of peanut butter and chocolate that led to the advent of the peanut butter cup – a synergistic marriage. We propose the term Connected Medical Home for the mixture and here’s what it might look like.
For the patient:
- Robust and frictionless online communication with one’s provider, with the medical home practice the default source of best practice information
- Fewer trips to the doctor’s office, improved prevention, and improved well being.
- Monitoring of relevant physiologic information such as blood pressure, blood glucose, step counts and medication adherence all fed into one’s personal health record.
- A ‘blended’ version of that record available to one’s physician and one’s loved ones, so that care coordination is made easier across settings of care and episodes of care.
- Access by both patients and their physicians to communities of consumers/patients with similar health challenges and goals where this kind of rich information would be displayed (according to the consumers’ wishes) and trusted relationships with like individuals would help move individuals to a state of more healthy behaviors and sustain them. Conceivably, a primary care provider could participate in such a community of her patients or subsets of her patients adding wisdom and coaching as the community felt it was relevant.