Health inSite: Consumer-directed Healthcare Part II

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This is part II in a four part series. Links for Part I, Part III, and Part IV

Behavioral economics

The complexity of the healthcare system as it currently is already embroils patients in the very difficult position of having to make decisions with imperfect, nonexistent, and unintelligible data. When individuals are forced to make a decision in a situation where these factors are present, depending on the cognitive capacity of the individual (complexity of thought, for one – see Thinking, Fast and Slow), sometimes results in fast thinking that may include cognitive bias (errors). When this occurs, decisions are poorly conceived and may result in catastrophic results. For that reason, we need a single, comprehensive, coordinated, and collaborative profile.

A personal profile/avatar

Which brings us to the core of a consumer-directed healthcare system’s BIG need. A longitudinal profile. The fantastic Jenn Dennard replied to a question posted on twitter recently

to which I say, Yay! There is a need, in a consumer-directed healthcare system, for the individual to be empowered in their decision-making by having the data on their past, present, and future outlook in the same way that we have the ability to understand our financial wellbeing over time. Organizing this information in a comprehensive, yet easily summarized way can help the consumer make determinations about what works for their short- and long-term investment in their healthcare options. While I’m tempted to refer here to the SAMHSA model of wellbeing to outline the information that should be collected in this profile, I’ll speak briefly on a few that I think are critical to the goal and then finally how they might work in tandem to help with decision-making.

Physical

Obviously, if we’re going to talk about a profile related to healthcare decisions, a comprehensive health record, complete with genetic profile, risk-factors, behaviors, and the like should be consolidated and coordinated. Something that looks along the lines of the EHR that is contemplated in this TED talk by Thomas Goetz comes to mind.

Financial

I’ve long said that healthcare is as much a financial decision as about providing care, but in more than just from the payer perspective. The provider’s ability to understand the financial impact in concert with the patient’s needs should be coordinated through this profile. But in a consumer-directed healthcare system, this also means empowering the patient with projections based on their health record that helps to estimate the financial burden that they may experience based on their health reality.

Social

If you’ve not read any of my previous posts, I recommend checking the various postings on the importance of ‘social’ in shaping our health reality (I’ll point you to the latest here). The way we interact with our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. all shape our health reality. Incorporating and ‘animating’ those connections – really analyzing and understanding them – is a key element to making significant changes in our behavior as well as helping to alter the health reality of each consumer.

Psychological

The psychological aspects of healthcare range from simple awareness (or lack thereof) to the complex co-occurring conditions to their interactions as the patient tackles their health reality. Further, the interpersonal experiences available to the consumer through their social network is sometimes limited by the psychological reality of the consumer – the functions or dysfunctions of cognition, personality, etc.

Game-state evaluation

In all of these components, it’s important to keep in mind that we are not static over the entire course of our lives and rarely so even when looking at only one factor. While research points to potential for adjustments in things like resiliency, literature also shows that we have hard-coded tendencies such as temperament. For more on game-state evaluation and other related topics, see my post on Decision Support, Games, and Making People Healthier.

Why tracking is important

A method for tracking those changes and dynamically responding to those changes along all axes can provide context for how the consumer should, and can, act on their purchasing, but also their locus of control and potential efficacy in using the system through the plan they intend to use/purchase.

Part III

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