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Digital Health Summit: Should it be Advancing or Aligning Innovation?

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The Digital Health Summit at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show commenced this week, bringing to the forefront a number of new consumer-based health and wellness innovations that sit at the convergence of technology and healthcare.  According to the Summit’s website, “ today’s generation of high-tech healthcare products and services will be the catalyst for better managed healthcare, patient/doctor communication, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery time, lowered costs for health insurance, early prevention and detection, digital patient information records, medical attention over distances, and so much more. A robust industry is developing to serve the healthcare market. The Digital Health Summit and Exhibition is here to serve as its epicenter.”  While consumer gadgets still dominate the CES 2012 platform, global technology giants clearly recognize that mobile and telehealth will continue to diminish barriers to healthcare access, quality and cost reduction.

Ultrabooks and smart phones with improved processing speeds for better viewing, video and data streaming, remote sensors and hubs, gateways and aggregation software dominated the healthcare presentations.  While these glitzy product launches can be instrumental in introducing new technology, are these companies – established and start-up alike – investing in the right mediums to successfully engage patients and providers for their product use?  As noted in the American Hospital Association’s Care Systems of the Future, the number one priority is to align hospitals, physicians, and other providers across the continuum of care.  Conceivably, one could argue that this should be extended to “hospital-physician-patient alignment,” under which strategies and action plans are implemented to align the interest and needs of the healthcare organization, physician, and the patient.  And when it comes right down to it, healthcare is about relationships – and who do patients trust more than their provider?  More to the point, with trust and respect comes influence.

While insurance companies attempts to engage patients in their healthcare management also remain important, would they not have more success if the patient’s primary care physician were aligned in this critically important mission?  Physicians inherently are analytical individuals, craving data for empirical evidence to validate the utility of new technology.  So goes the endless cycle, begging the question how does one solve it?  In short answer, smart technology vendors are surreptitiously working with residents that are entrenched in the ‘guts’ of healthcare delivery, allowing them to collaborate on future technology applications.  Similar to the Office of the National Coordinator’s (ONC) health video challenge, technology companies should seek opportunities real-time, be it video or state/local society meetings, to solicit feedback from physicians and other healthcare providers regarding best practices for positively influencing patient engagement and technology utilization.

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