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Project HealthDesign Provides Input on Health IT Policies

Jan 10, 2012, 8:37 AM, Posted by Patricia Flatley Brennan

Since health reform passed almost two years ago, we’ve seen the health care system begin to change quite a bit. The push for better uses of health IT has brought about many proposed rules and programs, and federal agencies have requested public input on many of these proposals.

Because Project HealthDesign has always included multi-disciplinary teams of researchers, clinicians, and patients who are helping to lay the foundation for a patient-centered health IT system, we’ve seized these opportunities to share our unique insights by commenting on several proposed policies. In the process, we’ve been able to share our thoughts about promising practices for collecting patient-generated data and incorporating it into the clinical care process.

In 2011, Project HealthDesign provided feedback on seven proposed policies. These ranged from applauding the HHS Proposed Rule on Patient Access to Lab Reports, which would allow patients to become more engaged with their health data, to calling for better distinctions between mobile apps and mobile medical apps under the FDA Mobile Medical Application Guidance. Working together to help refine these types of policy proposals is even more critical now as we enter a new era of widespread adoption and use of health IT.

Read Project HealthDesign’s policy comments, watch “How Clinicians Can Help Guide Federal Conversations About Health IT,” or visit the Project HealthDesign website to learn more.

You can also check out Dr. Roger Luckmann's post on KevinMD.com about how Project HealthDesign is helping people with chronic diseases manage pain.

Reflections from mHealth Summit 2011

Dec 16, 2011, 10:49 AM, Posted by Al Shar

I'm sure that the organizers of this year's mHealth Summit were more than pleased. There were more than 3,600 people in attendance, up 1,200 from last year. The exhibit floor was larger and more complex, rivaling some trade shows. There were tracks for business, research, policy and technology along with a slew of special sessions and keynotes from Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, among others. Some presentations soared with whiz-bang demos and promises of how technology will change the world; others bemoaned the complexity of interoperability, the "silo-ization" and the lack of demonstrated value.

While there is no question that mHealth is on the rise, some, including myself, are wondering if we’re heading toward a bubble of inflated expectations. As with all bubbles—dot com, housing etc.—the question isn’t whether there is significant underlying value (there is), but instead “how do we invest in the value that can be realized without buying into overinflated hype?” In the context of the ‘90s’ dot-com bubble, “How do we place our bets on Google and not on pets.com?”

The answer isn’t going to be found in the next jazzy consumer-oriented gadget, but by connecting great ideas that will help us lead happier, healthier lives over the long haul – connecting business, research, technology, and policy interests to find shared value.

I came away from the 2011 mHealth Summit optimistic in the overall potential of mHealth, but a little skeptical about the direction it seems to be heading in. Introducing multiple new and evolving health innovations is inherently complex, as is the perversity of our current health infrastructure. Yet one can’t help but notice that there are some very smart people working on developing the promise mHealth can offer to address some of our most pressing health challenges.

A central question will be how willing those from the “m” will be to ensure that the “health” is improved? And how open will the folks from “health” be in fulfilling the promise of “m” technology?

This will require us all to see value from others’ perspectives in this growing ecosystem. I’ll explore this more in my next blog post, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, take a moment to peruse RWJF’s coverage of the Summit on NewPublic Health.org, which tapped into some of the conversations, new collaborations and innovations in mobile health that might feasibly be applied to public health, and started a conversation about the potential for mobile technologies to help the public health field connect with hard-to-reach populations and bridge disparities.  Read what they learned in interviews with Susannah Fox of the Pew Internet and American Life Project about advances in mHealth, with Yvonne Hunt of the National Cancer Institute about the potential for mHealth in public health, and with Robert Kaplan, director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the National Institutes of Health about the rigorous research still needed to support the field. We’d love to know what you think, so don’t forget to comment on each post or below to share your insights.

Early Insights from Project HealthDesign

Oct 21, 2011, 10:31 AM

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As more patients begin using technology to manage their health, the Pioneer Portfolio's National program Project HealthDesign is helping meet the demand by designing tools that can be used by real people to improve their health and engagement with their health care providers. In the true pioneering spirit, Project HealthDesign research teams are working with real patients to create new technologies that help people living with chronic illnesses and improve their health and coordination of care. Patients are tracking observations of daily living (ODLs) about their sleep patterns, pain levels and moods. They use the resulting ODL data to better communicate with health care providers as they look to see what the trends in their ODLs might suggest, like whether they need to take a certain action to improve their health or whether past actions have made a difference. The incredible experiences these teams are having with real patients and clinicians have uncovered some preliminary lessons.

The teams have learned that new clinical workflows are needed in order to incorporate ODLs into clinical practice. Nurses, health coaches and other caregivers have emerged as the key points of contact for ODL data incorporation. And because each patient is different, personal health applications need to be customizable.

A key outcome of the teams’ work will be to determine how ODLs can be integrated into clinical care and individuals’ daily health decision-making processes. To learn more insights and lessons from Project HealthDesign, view the Early Findings and Challenges report for a quick overview or read the draft Technical Architectures and Implementations report for more detailed findings.