Health IT

Calico, communities, legislation and tech drive a new era of health

America’s healthcare system has historically taken only baby steps to empower individual health and wellness ownership – until now. Recent events are about to alter existing healthcare paradigms and I believe this to be the most pivotal of moments. With Google’s Calico, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Penn State’s wellness debacle and the rise of […]

America’s healthcare system has historically taken only baby steps to empower individual health and wellness ownership – until now. Recent events are about to alter existing healthcare paradigms and I believe this to be the most pivotal of moments. With Google’s Calico, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Penn State’s wellness debacle and the rise of health-oriented social, healthcare entities are now taking a microscope to existing practices and infrastructures. What will they find? An industry destined for a radical makeover that will result in a prevention-based and consumer-driven healthcare network.

Let’s take a look at the players involved, from the good (social networking and technology), the bad (Penn State’s wellness initiative) and the TBD (Calico and the ACA).

The Emerging Models
Legislation, technology, communities, and social networking are forcing a healthcare overhaul. Consider Google’s Calico: It has the opportunity to create the largest online community to share health information, turning personal health on its head. With a greater global consumer reach than any other organization, Google has the access and resources to throw at this opportunity, making it the ideal company to coordinate this effort – and being led by Art Levinson, the Bill Gates of biotech, doesn’t hurt.

Addressing the issue of aging in a share- and prevention-oriented effort is a response to the growing presence of the “empowered patient.” Calico could finally deliver on the promise for people to have the ability to seize proactive command over their health with a full understanding of their health data and risk factors. Previously constrained by outdated regulations and a healthcare system that doesn’t prioritize prevention, the tables are finally turning. The potential can live up to the hype.

The October 1 launch of ACA-mandated healthcare exchanges is another step toward preventative care and information sharing. While the ACA is polarizing on both sides, (the outcome of its execution remains yet to be seen) the core of the ACA will impact the resulting healthcare industry in a way that empowers individuals to own their well-being and fosters collaboration with all patient caregivers.

The Anti-Model
Pennsylvania State University recently (and wisely) repealed a recent decision that established a punitive-based health and wellness program. Love or hate it, even the ACA agrees with the ‘carrot’ versus the ‘stick’ (companies can offer a reward of up to 30 percent of health costs for employees who participate in programs like risk assessment). Given the backlash and media attention Penn state received, it was an unfortunate way to learn what not to do.

Additionally, HIPAA is about to be a relic. Designed in a bygone era, HIPAA will be rendered obsolete thanks to the ACA. Because the ACA will provide benefits to those with pre-existing conditions, HIPAA’s privacy laws will only exist as roadblocks to individual health and wellness. The future of healthcare is driven by information sharing. It’s time for HIPAA to die

The Proven Models
Peer support in healthcare is proving to be wildly successful. As consumers, we increasingly seek the wisdom of crowds to create and sustain meaningful behavior change. El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA, recently launched a healthcare program for its employees in which social networking was a one of the tent poles in the program. During an 8-week time frame, over 1,000 participants lost over 1,000 pounds and began eating more fruits and vegetables. What was the number one motivating factor? Sharing progress updates with colleagues.

Today, 80 percent of healthcare costs are associated with preventable illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. It’s no wonder people are demanding to take back ownership of their health. Social networking, communities, technology and legislation are propelling old school healthcare into a consumer-driven and preventative-based model. I say bring it on — it’s about time.

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