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Will Digital Health help close the Care Gap?
Now that you know what Digital Health is, are you feeling better? Rant on: In my search for knowledge this morning, I watched a short graphical video provided by the founder, Paul Sonnier, of the LinkedIn Group called Digital Health. I watched to learn something and help shed light on one of the greatest mumbo-jumbo terminology taxonomies since the launch of three letter acronyms (TLAs) that were sported by IT professionals in the 70s and 80s. This fast-paced explanatory video was, naturally, titled "What is Digital Health?" Since there is no room for additional synonyms in the taxonomy entry on my blog, it was important for me to check it out.
Alas, I'm not feeling better but am I better informed? No light, unfortunately. At the end of rapid-fire graphics, his voiceover and associated text concludes without any apparent irony: "The lexicon of Digital Health is extensive and includes all or elements of mHealth (aka Mobile Health), Wireless Health, Health 2.0, eHealth, Health IT, Big Data, Health Data, Cloud Computing, e-Patients, Quantified Self and Self-tracking, Wearable Computing, Gamification, Telehealth & Telemedicine, Precision and Personalized Medicine, plus Connected Health." [Disclosure -- all links were added by me and offer amazing definition overlap.] You can see why investors love this stuff. Perpetual renaming and classification obfuscation throughout this 'lexicon' prevents the moneyed set from having a meaningful clue about what they are investing in. Clearly Vinod Khosla's comment that Technology Would Replace 80% of Doctors is one of those remarks that doesn't enhance investor reputation. But today's all-things-health mania does remind me of the early days of the eCommerce boom -- or the days in IT when a BSA was hip deep in CRM, DRM, SRM, PRM and that most-appropriately-named among big bucks enterprise lock-downs masquerading as software, SAP.
In the healthcare realm, what’s NOT an element of Digital Health? I suppose Surgery and Wound Care aren’t, though both rely on some elements of Health Data. And don’t you love the fact that the NSA is not alone in seeing the massive opportunity in Big Data? For efficiency’s sake, I hope that health Big Data resides in the Cloud, and leverages all of our other nuggets of Health Data, including our previous hospitalizations, surgeries and allergies. Why, despite the breadth of Digital Health, are we always asked: "Any allergies to medicine?" Is there a secure digital medication history for us that reflects multiple physicians and prescriptions for the same patient? What's up with the VA and its paperless EHR failure to connect two departments? Who knew that the leading breakthrough today in health was Gamification? See how cleverly it is being used to educate employees about benefits.
Meanwhile, AARP released a report today about family caregiving's frightening future. For a sharp contrast to Digital Health otherworldliness, look at the real (and future) world – in which the baby boom ages past 80. AARP’s Public Policy Institute released a report today about the growing Care Gap for the 80+ population, modeled and projected out to 2030 and 2050. Does Digital Health play a role in family caregiving in 2010? How about in the year 2030? How about 2050, the year that the youngest of the baby boomers will be aged 80+? That’s the age at which 55.8% of this age segment will have a severe disability, when a third will need help with activities of daily living (ADLs). Unfortunately, the potential caregiving population will have declined in inverse proportion to the rising age of baby boomers. This will happen slowly over the next decade, dropping down from 7.2 available caregivers per "high risk senior" during the current decade, then down to 4.1 in 2030, then down further to 2.9 available family caregivers per high risk senior by 2050. Which of the Digital Health elements will help with that care? Courtesy of Joe Coughlin in 2006, it seems that Cathedral Builders are still wanted to help apply the Digital Health cottage companies in an integrated and communicative way to assist those 2.9 caregivers with that burden. Rant off.