Health inSite: Believe your own data!

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I was recently reviewing a video by the very impressive Kelly McGonigal (author of the Willpower Instinct – interview video here) as a part of, what appears to be, a new series called “Open Office Hours” and posted to the Stanford University Facebook account.  At 1:26 in the video, she explains that when you are confronted with a piece of research (specifically in this instance related to health) that it’s important to test it for yourself and then makes the statement “believe your own data.”

That is a very powerful statement to make!

Awareness of the opportunities to impact one’s own health and then the wherewithal to actually make a change also necessitates awareness as to the impact that that change is having on you.  And to do that, conveniently, we have  useful tools available to us to help begin tracking and reporting on that data ourselves…but how?

Enter #mHealth

One of the trends that has certainly begun to make its mark on the issue of monitoring and tracking this data is the mobile health (mHealth) industry.  From apps to the actual hardware itself – in the case of the iPhone 5s and its motion sensing capability, but even as early as the simple GPS function being used in running and biking apps – many people are starting to log and catalog this data for themselves.  The difficulty is that sharing this information is usually specific to a particular platform, creating a barrier to actually leveraging the social side of health behavior modification, which we know to be so important at creating success (read pretty much anything I’ve previously written in the Health inSite series).

An early leader

WebMD is leading the way with an in-app storefront for purchasing interoperable medical devices that already work with the 2net platform (Qualcomm’s health cloud services) and will make it easier to stay on top of health and health behavior.  Further, with the avado partnership and connection between Medscape and WebMD, the app should be able to handle end-to-end management of those health behaviors beginning with: identification of information related to a certain health metric or behavior; access to the acquisition of a relevant piece of equipment to “sense” the data related to the health factor; wirelessly transmitting and logging relevant data; and then through co-ownership between the patient and the provider, the ability to monitor that data and make adjustments.  Throw in a little bit of personal social network for those wanting to connect this with their existing support (or in the “friends’ friends make you fat” way, lack of support) to help create the conversation necessary to actually affect our health behavior and our health self-concept.

Dr. McGonigal is right

While it is exciting that we are starting to be able to monitor and track all this cool stuff about ourselves (some have been doing it for decades in larger and smaller ways even before the tech was available to integrate the monitoring with the data management), the important thing is that you have to test it for yourself.  We don’t all respond the same way to every intervention method, and some things work better for others that won’t even begin to help us.  But we cannot know how or what will work until we make the decision that we want to try and then start tracking that data and, most importantly, recognize that we need to believe in (trust) our own data to help us make the decisions that will have the greatest impact in whatever we want to improve while creating our optimally-performing self. This is the art of health based on the science of health.

To our health,

Ryan Lucas
Manager, Engagement & Development

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Health inSite: #4PHealth

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Each week I take an hour to join with a few colleagues and thought-leaders around the world on twitter to discuss all kinds of interesting topics related to where healthcare is going, what to expect in the intersection between Health and Technology, and how we might play a role in that changing landscape. These TweetChats are an opportunity to learn, share, and ultimately understand how social media, technology, and the role of various players in the healthcare world might better work together. Often, we turn to the topic of patient engagement. This is focused on what tools, technology, and other needs might help to get patients more involved in their own health. This can come in the form of tracking various metrics (see the Quantified Self movement) to making sure that individuals on medication are staying on top of that treatment to ensure their continued health improvement. While in our last TweetChat, which emphasized Patient Engagement and Experience specifically, we discussed that it was important for us to focus on what the patient could do, yes, but also what the provider and the payer could do. This is a common picture of the players in the healthcare world. Someone needs the service (patient), someone provides the service (provider), and someone pays for the service (payer). It looks sort of like this:

#P3Health

But that’s not really the whole picture, now is it? The truth is that this is the model of a sick-care system. As I’ve mentioned in blog postings beforehand, in order to keep people as healthy as possible before they need to access the healthcare system, the system must account for one more “P” in this proverbial puzzle (or pie, if you’d like!); one’s Peers:

#P4Health

It’s the convergence of all four P’s (Provider, Payer, Patient, and that Patient’s Peers) that will allow for greater healthcare reach. When the Payer and the Provider are able to engage the Patient’s Peers, then true health generation is possible and the benefits of one’s social network can then be fully leveraged.

With that, I submit a new hashtag for the consideration of a community that continually strives to make the very complicated healthcare system a little simpler as we move towards greater total health and wellbeing of the individuals that have to access this system. #4PHealth represents the four core stakeholders in healthcare that ultimately are responsible for the health of the patient and responsible for keeping that patient out of the hospital, involved and engaged in their total health and wellbeing, and always striving to improve one’s total health picture. When the Patient, Provider, Payer, and Peers come together, total wellbeing is possible.

This doesn’t have to be limited to the TwitterSphere, though. Take a moment and think about the real-world applications of this for you in your life. What can you be doing to help those in your peer group become healthier? What opportunities are there for you to help generate greater health for yourself and for your friends, family, and coworkers? What can you ask of your peers to help you with to create better health for yourself? The 4P model may not be the easiest thing for us to accomplish in our current healthcare system given the disjointed nature of care models, but you still have the ability to start working on the fourth “P” today. What will your first step be?

To our health,

Ryan Lucas
Supervisor, Marketing
(illustrations assembled myself!)

Health inSite: Bring Your Own Health

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Blended, not segmented

In an increasingly interconnected world, the rift between the person and the role within the workplace is diminishing.  Again, highlighting a moment from our presentation at the EAPA 2011 Conference back in October, we provided a brief demonstration of the change that is coming with the introduction of smart technology that is cheap, intuitive, and pervasive.  We added many of the ingredients of our everyday lives – personal photos, TPS reports, business cards, a beer (non-alcoholic, of course), and some others – to a blender.  After pureeing the ingredients, we had the mish mash of our lives in a soupy representation of its non-segmentation.  Slowly, but surely, we continue to blur the lines between our personal and professional lives.  The generation entering the workplace today, as well as the mavens that have been productively using social media over the past decade, are contending with very significant issues when it comes to their personal versus professional circles.

Which is perfectly fine for them as, characteristically, they are less concerned about the space between work and personal that has existed in previous generations.

But it does bring up a new combined reality wherein the interconnectedness of all things plays a new role, e.g., less applying for jobs and more networking with previous co-workers and current friends.  This is a powerful change in the culture of hiring as we can rely more on data points that are trusted, rather than on the various axes we might consider from an interview.

We’ll have chips, you bring the dip

This is further aided by the number of devices (and the consolidators like cloud computing and apps) on which we can maintain a seamless online life.  Our ability to share, connect, and compute through these various devices has led to a revolution for some workplaces.  We’ve gone from intentional VPN connections on desktops into the workplace, to push-based access to email on our phones.

Enter BYOD.

Now we have the opportunity for individual employees to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).  Gone are the days where individuals carry two phones, or a personal phone and a work laptop.  A new tide is rising where an employee can use their personal device to connect to work.  This has obvious implications associated with it.  In my last blog, I walked through some of the changes in the landscape regarding social media in the workplace and its potential for the leaking of PCI (a play on Private Health Information, Private Corporate Information).  Imagine the concerns regarding that PCI on a device that can literally be left on a street corner!  Consider data from Lookout Security (a mobile app that tracks lost phones) alone: 9 million lost phones in 2011.  By the way, if you have employees using mobile devices for work purposes, either company owned or personally owned, you should have a solution like Lookout or iOS’s Find my iPhone in place.  It’s just another thing to add to the technology section of your HR manual.

We can access statistics and reports from virtually anywhere with a WiFi or data signal, and we can do it on the same devices as our social media and personal activities.  This means increased efficiency for some, and others less so as there are more distractions on the same device; however, it also means being less tied down to a workstation.  Enabling employees to function in their role fluidly and dynamically means a potential for faster response rates and less commuting or booting (as in booting up a computer) time.  So long as you are not also operating in System 1 by multi-tasking.

What does this have to do with health?

I’m so glad you asked.  The mobile revolution has another impact on our lives: the ability for our physical wellbeing to be more social and integrated with our daily activities.  For an employer, this can mean increased health outcomes to decrease premiums as awareness of one’s health can increase attention to keeping oneself healthier.  Integrated with Social Media, this also allows for real time feedback from our social network, encouraging and assisting in the process of growing our health.  And since we spend 1/3 of our week working, ignoring this time because it’s “work time” is simply the wrong way to go about creating a healthier workforce.  Population health strategies necessitate an integrated approach to health – and even more so when you are self-insured!

If that’s not interesting enough, using both hardware and software, new tracking of the quantified self enables a feedback system that helps provide data to be reviewed by System 2, resulting in increased awareness of our current health status.  Knowing your heart-rate through events, in real time, allows for biofeedback-based solutions to situations.  Literally translated, our at-the-moment health can enable greater productivity at work – whether that’s at a coffee shop, your home, or at the office.  As these pieces of technology become cheaper and more precise, BYOD might one day allow for the inclusion of health devices for work too.

To our health,

Ryan
Marketing