Welcome to Health 2.0
On the web, we can all share and help change the world.
with Amy Tenderich
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
October 2007 —If you're reading this column on dLife, then you're part of the blooming new Health 2.0 movement, whether you know it or not. You are helping to change the world of healthcare just by being here, so thank you.
What is Health 2.0? Well, it's so new that no standard definition exists yet, but in a nutshell it's both an explosion in new web-based personal health technologies and a whole new way of involving consumers in the healthcare system. On the technology side, there's a growing world of web logs, podcasts, online communities like dLife and DailyStrength and new specialized health-search sites like Xoova and Curbside.MD that provide us patients with information, choices, and a public voice never imaginable before.
The fact that consumers can now search for so much health-related information, and also contribute by adding their own nuggets of health wisdom in this public forum – the Internet – is creating quite some upheaval within the Old Guard ranks of healthcare. That is, we patients can now interact with each other and even complain about providers and services out in the open. We're no longer some "silent majority" totally at the mercy of doctors and pharmaceutical companies.
So one way of looking at Health 2.0 is to say that these new interactive Internet features (sometimes called ‘Web 2.0') have helped create "a new concept of healthcare in which all the constituents -- patients, physicians, providers, and insurance payers -- focus on value in terms of outcomes/price, and use competition…as the catalyst for improving the safety, efficiency, and quality of healthcare delivery."
Why Should You Care?
Remember, in the "old days" we patients were kind of helpless. We had to depend on whatever information our doctor or other healthcare provider chose to pass on to us. That individual might not be up-to-date on the latest treatments, or might not really "get" what it's like to live with a condition like diabetes day-in and day-out.
Now, when you as an informed patient go in to see your doctor armed with detailed questions you may have researched on the Web about the new drug Januvia, for example, you not only help yourself, but you help the entire patient community. Because you're prodding that doctor to know the latest and greatest. All of his/her other patients will benefit from this as well. You're also changing the relationship with your doctor, from a passive teacher-student dynamic to more of a partnership.
Health 2.0 is about putting the patient in charge. It's also known as "consumer-driven healthcare" which I've said myself is an appealing concept that hasn't fully materialized yet. But it's getting closer, with experts even talking about creating a scoring system to help us evaluate the care we're getting.
The idea is to take the concept of a FICO score, which tells you how you stand with your financial credit, and apply it to your health. The better your health, the higher your score, and it would be your doctor's job to help you raise that score. If your doctor doesn't help you improve your score, that would be good grounds to find another doctor. Under this model, doctors would be directly accountable for the care they give, and patients would do a lot of shopping around!
What Does it Mean for Diabetes?
One thing is clear: diabetes is going to be at the forefront of these Health 2.0 changes. Because diabetes is one of the most widespread and fastest-growing medical conditions in the country, costing the system billions of dollars each year. Did you know, for example, that 25% of Medicare dollars currently go to cover treatment of diabetes complications? Or that 1 in 3 children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes, according to the CDC?
I attended the first-ever business innovation conference on Health 2.0 last month, and wouldn't you know that almost every demonstration of two-dozen-or-so nifty new health technologies used DIABETES as an example?
Meanwhile, the online campaign I've led at over at my web log for improved design of insulin pumps and glucose monitors has resounded all the way to the pages of BusinessWeek. What an amazing demonstration of user-generated healthcare! A patient-blogger floats an idea, and it gets picked up by national press and design experts alike. Now it seems this single blog post will help fast-forward the elimination of the gap between current medical device design and that of slick consumer products like Apple's iPod.
We so-called "ePatients" – all of us who use the Internet to learn and share about our condition – are at the core of Health 2.0. What we get out of it personally includes everything from great recipes to tips and tricks for better glucose control to online friends and a sense of community. And while we're doing all this sharing, we're also helping to change the world.
* Amy Tenderich is co-author of the new book, Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes.
Read more about Amy Tenderich.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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