Whether or not the Cubs can overcome the infamous “Billy Goat Curse,” we have to give a shout-out to our hometown sluggers for clinching a postseason series at Wrigley Field for the first time in team history. This playoff season has us thinking about healthcare power HITters worth rooting for. All-stars on our HIT List this week include smartphone teleconferencing, the Internet of Things and mPHRs.

  1. Problem solver or problem creator? The 9th annual Health 2.0 conference grappled with how the technology ecosystem can best help — not hinder — efforts to improve healthcare. Digital innovators were encouraged to meet three goals: 1) Make healthy choices compelling and accessible, 2) reduce health disparities and 3) design tools that make pursuing health a “team sport.” Check out some of the challenges and proposed solutions.
  2. Patient power. Using a mobile personal health record (mPHR) system connected or “tethered” to a hospital’s EHR empowers patients to better manage chronic disease, improves patient/caregiver communication, reduces medical errors and improves safety, new research shows. Access to online educational content specific to their medical issues also deepens understanding and boosts patient satisfaction. Let’s hear it for the benefits of patient engagement.
  3. Home healthcare, redefined. As consumers take more ownership of their health, and providers have more incentive to care about patient behavior beyond the hospital or physician’s office, healthcare products and services are rapidly moving into our homes. This design expert predicts that the future “Connected Home for Health” will take advantage of the Internet of Things, collect wads of data about us and our activities, and ultimately help us live longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives. That’s setting the bar pretty darn high.
  4. Reining in readmissions. When it comes to telehealth, the simpler the better, researchers say. That could explain some of the success discovered in a recent study. It found that connecting patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and their physicians via smartphone teleconferencing reduced 30-day hospital readmissions to zero, and also improved everyday functioning. The study leader sees numerous possibilities for putting mHealth tools to work — including texting reminders to patients who don’t use their inhalers or don’t meet exercise expectations.
  5. Download this app and call me in the morning. Imagine a future where apps will be prescribed alone or with other drugs and interventions to manage health issues from diabetes to skin conditions. Where palm-sized devices combine with artificial intelligence to improve triage, diagnosis and treatment. And where wearable patches integrate multiple vital signs for more complex disease management outside the hospital. Definitely not old school.
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