Interaction between patients and healthcare providers and between fellow patients is taking place on a growing number of (digital) platforms. Healthcare providers wish to enable the “engaged health citizens” to better manage their health conditions themselves. As with most things online, it is a rapidly evolving field; the speed and scale of change means that it is very difficult – even for industry professionals – to get a clear and coherent overview of what is going on; through which channels and on which platforms.
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, founder of the strategic health consultancy THINK-Health, has been monitoring the movements in this area since its conception. She writes and blogs extensively and has published a number of research papers, most recently How Smartphones Are Changing Health Care For Consumers and Providers. Jane will open the eHealth track with her thoughts on where participatory health is going; the drivers behind the developments and the platforms on which it will take place.
Jane is not the only one with a strong interest in this field: , director of the persuasive technology lab at Stanford University, B J Fogg has published a book called “Texting 4 Health” with suggestions about how to leverage and optimize the use of simple SMS for health promotion and research. BJ is also organizing a Mobile Health 2010 event later in May.
The exchange of information, advise and health data is thus no longer exclusively in the hands of trusted health professionals; the opinions about whether this is a good or a bad thing differ widely. One thing is certain: the public’s appetite for engaging in, indeed increasingly taking control of, the management of their own health is growing fast. eHealth professionals consequently play an increasingly important role in the overall healthcare system and they need to have a thorough understanding; not only of the platforms, applications and technologies available, but also of the existing systems and structures, the actual needs of patients and providers alike, the specific realities of the digital divide etc in order to meet the challenges sensibly in this rapidly developing field.
Voice your opinion and get input about the future of eHealth in the track sessions in Philadelphia.