This is a place to share and learn about changes in the policy and media landscape that impact the development of personal health records (PHRs), and the field of health and information technology generally.
While part of our intended audience is the innovators – including Project HealthDesign grantees – who are dreaming up and designing new services and tools, the topics we’ll cover here are relevant to a much larger group, including policymakers, healthcare providers, insurers, technology vendors – and especially patients or consumers, a category to which we all belong to some degree.
Last month at the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Spring Congress in Orlando, I attended a panel chaired by Project HealthDesign Director Patti Brennan. Representatives from four Project HealthDesign teams shared their progress so far, about six months into the project.
I learned about how PDAs can help patients manage chronic pain, and how an open-source program will tap into the power of community to motivate sedentary adults to become more active. I was surprised by grantee JR Kedziora’s observation that different users – all with diabetes – have very distinct preferences in the ways in which they receive health information electronically. And I was intrigued by a group that is using visual vocabulary (the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena is serving as the lead partner on its team) to reach teens on their own terms, using formats that appeal to them. Each project was unique. Despite their variety, they shared several common themes, two of which I’d like to highlight at the launch of this blog.
The first is a contagious spirit of blue-sky creativity. You see, I live in Washington,DC, home of the filibuster, partisan gridlock, and bureaucratic red tape. Nearly every discussion of health and IT (and there have been plenty in the last 20 years!) is mired by a review of The Barriers blocking its progress. Where is the technical infrastructure? Who will pay for it? Will doctors use it? Can patients trust it? Project HealthDesign waves those concerns aside – and asks us to imagine, for a moment, what is possible.
This seemingly impractical approach is in fact very practical. We need a compelling and concrete vision of what health IT could be. Without an understanding of its value, it is extremely difficult to muster the forces to overcome The Barriers, which are indeed formidable. But if we, including and especially the general public, can grasp how healthcare could be, we have a much better chance of making it so. And the future isn’t as far off, time or technology-wise, as we might think.
A second common theme that came through the panel presentations was the importance of user-centered design, which calls for direct input from users in the development of a product or service. In that spirit, in this blog I will report and opine on topics that I find fascinating and relevant to PHRs, but it’s also up to you to communicate your interests and needs so I can better meet them. Let the conversation begin!
- Lygeia Ricciardi