While doctors, nurses and other health care providers are experts at clinical care, only patients are experts at identifying and explaining their daily experiences and how they may affect the way they feel: what they ate, how they slept, their mood, whether they have been getting exercise, etc. To get all the information needed to achieve better health outcomes, both patients and clinicians need to share more with each other—and technology can play a big role in efficiently bridging the gap between them, according to Patricia Flatley Brennan, R.N., Ph.D., F.A.A.N., director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Project HealthDesign national program.
Brennan provided testimony today at a public hearing hosted by the Office of the National Coordinator’s Meaningful Use Workgroup on consumer engagement in health care. She explained that achieving a paradigm shift to a more patient-centered health care system requires that patient-generated data—or observations of daily living (ODLs)—be captured, interpreted and incorporated into clinical care, using a range of technological tools already relied upon by most consumers, such as cell phones and other digital devices. Brennan offered the committee three things that she believes must be accomplished:
- Health information that is selected and gathered by patients must be integrated into clinical care. The flow of information about an individual’s health should go both ways—not just from providers to patients—because patients are experts about their daily activities, and providers need their insights.
- Health information must be accessible to patients in a computable form. Project HealthDesign’s grantees and numerous private sector companies have been developing applications and services designed to let patients use health data in innovative ways, whether via PCs, mobile devices, online communities or other means.
- Health information for patients must be actionable. Health information must be meaningful to patients as they make decisions about their own health care.
ProjectHealth Design is exploring practical ways to digitally capture and integrate patient-recorded observations of daily living into clinical care, and is testing this concept with real patients and providers in select communities.