Friday, 31 May 2013

The Patient Portal – A new Paradigm in Patient Empowerment

The movement towards empowering patients with access to their own medical data in a format they can understand and engage with has gained considerable momentum in the past few months. The scope can extend beyond health and wellness programmes to a person’s entire medical record history.

The Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY) is one of the most advanced health information networks in operation today. A series of regional hubs create a secure network that spans the entire state. The system works effectively for physicians. This power of this state of the art infrastructure has however, been untapped by the patients themselves.

To ensure that patients are empowered the New York State Department of Health, New York e-Health Collaborative and recently ran a competition where New Yorkers could vote on what they wanted their patient portal to look like.

What is most significant is that this is an example of the medical profession reaching out and asking consumers what they want. What is clear from the results is that patients have placed the highest value on what appears to be the simplest, clearest, most colourful and engaging interface.

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Once the portal is in place patients will be able to access their results from any mobile device and share this information with medical professionals regardless of their location when the need arises.

The proposed system has been enthusiastically received by both medical professionals and patients and is surely one of the most ground breaking initiatives in patient empowerment today. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

How to Clearly Communicate Medical Test Results

"The typical blood test report is an exercise in obfuscation, a document that needs to be translated by a lab technician or physician, and that’s if you somehow manage to see a copy of your results."

If an individual understands their health they can feel empowered to make changes to avoid serious illness.

In 2010 Wired Magazine collaborated with Physicians at Dartmouth Medical School Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice to explore how patient results could be communicated more clearly with patients.  They reviewed a typical lab results printout and found that the content was of little to no value to the patient.

The conclusion drawn was that lab results should be made to be colourful, clear, simple, easy and relevant. A subsequent design exercise showed how this could translate graphically. The result is instantly more engaging and caters to all levels of health literacy. A heart disease and PSA test also had the same makeover.

Applying this concept to health checks is a logical step. Health Checks are the most comprehensive review of health and as a result they produce a lot of medical test results and figures. If a patient does not feel that they have been given a thorough understanding of their health after a health check then a huge opportunity to avoid serious illness can be missed.

Combining medical test data, personal lifestyle and medical history information and presenting it in a colourful, clear, simple, easy and relevant report with personalised recommendations is a great way to ensure patients are happy with their results. 

Friday, 17 May 2013

Understanding our medical test results – a simple, people friendly idea.

Understanding our medical test results – a simple, people friendly idea.

Today’s consumers demand transparency from every service they purchase yet healthcare has been slow to adapt to this demand. In a recent interview with national broadcaster Newstalk, Full Health CEO Paul Mc Carthy spoke to George Hook who referred to healthcare as “the last vestige of secrecy”.

The issue of clearly communicating medical test results stems in part from the heavily numerical data produced by labs. Consumers simply cannot be expected to understand what these results mean, much less use the results to make lifestyle changes to improve health. Doctors have traditionally had the mundane task of deciphering this information manually and relaying the results to the health consumer.

The concept of engaging healthcare consumers with information that caters to all levels of health literacy is not new. At TED MED in 2010 Thomas Goetz promoted the idea that “the crux of this is giving people information in a form that doesn’t just educate and inform them but actually leads them to make better decisions.” Mr. Goetz proposed simple graphical health reports that engaged and informed as an obvious first step.

Converting complex test data into people friendly reports empowers health consumers to take steps to avoid serious illness. Undiagnosed underlying threats can go unnoticed and untreated unless identified and clearly explained at an early stage. This can lead to acute conditions such as stroke and heart attacks 80% of which are entirely preventable.

To Feel Empowered by health screening - book a Full Health demo.

Health and wellness screening is a logical first step for many people who wish to take a proactive preventative approach. It is a point at which if empowered with simple, informative people friendly information and recommendations they can start to make the changes to live a longer and healthier life.

To address this issue the central focus at Full Health is converting complex medical test data into people friendly reports that educate and empower today’s health consumers.