Pinching Pennies, 21st Century Style

By Jason Brandt (@JasonDMG3)

In many ways technology is the realm of the rich. Here in the developed world, were used to the latest hardware and ubiquitous wi-fi to help us access the open-sourced wisdom of the entire internet. For those of us fortunate enough to be on that side of the digital divide, that entry gives us so much.

For those on the other side, it must be that much more frustrating to see how much is available once you have that access.

So perhaps it’s incumbent upon us to use it.

Weve heard for literally years about the Great Recession that were mired in. Some economists say that its over, but the millions of unemployed and underemployed would argue with that.

These people having trouble making ends meet are not strangers. Theyre not even just our friends and acquaintances. Theyre also our patients – the people we work every day to help. So our work should not just be trying to develop digital solutions to improve their health care. It should be using those solutions to help their health care come cheaper.

I know that this may come as anathema in our capitalist society, but hear me out. The more patients who can afford healthcare, the more patients who can enter the realm of healthcare. There are many millions of patients for whom proper health care is out of reach: as one example, there are 45 million uninsured Americans.

Using technology to make healthcare more affordable: Its already happening around us.

1. Telemedicine helps patients get medical treatment without having to pay to travel long distances.
2. Electronic health records improve the efficiency of practices, hospitals and the entire health care system, streamlining the process, speeding it up, and removing opportunities for error.
3. Generic biotech is a new frontier that could make some of the most complex new types of medicine less expensive. Just last month, some of the top companies discussed how they could join forces to develop biosimilars.

But how can we move this to our technology?

We talked about one example recently – in Russs post from May 26 about the potential of social networks for gathering patient data. Imagine the possibilities that social media offers. Done right, with the proper privacy protections in place, we could make the entire concept of patient registries obsolete.

While social is one of the fronts that were fighting this revolution on, the other is mobile.

Weve talked before about how most of us (in the developed world) carry hugely sophisticated computers in our pockets every day. Are we using that power to give our patients tools to keep themselves healthy?

We may or may not still be in a recession, but we are definitely in the midst of a massive technology revolution. Lets use the latter to help with the former.



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