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Why Empowered Patients Are the Future of Medicine

Posted by | 8:16pm on Thursday, June 17, 2010
Lost Medical Data Dress
Lost Medical Data Dress

this initiative has the power to bring market forces to bear on health care 

The launch of the Community Health Data Initiative is one of those watershed moments that we will one day look back on as an event that revolutionized health care. By opening up its vast stores of data to the public free of charge, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking to both raise awareness of community health performance and spark initiatives to improve it.

What’s in those data stores? Things like smoking rates, obesity rates, access to healthy foods, and hospital level information on measures of quality performance and patient satisfaction.

“Part of this project is about making that data available and accessible to the public and it’s never happened before,” said Kathleen Sibelius, Secretary of the HHS, announcing the initiative.

What Will People Do With That Data?
“Let me give you a few examples,” Sibelius said. “A patient with a heart disease could go online and choose the local hospital where the rates of healthcare associated infections are actually dropping, not the hospital down the street where they’ve been increasing.”

In other words, this initiative has the power to bring market forces to bear on health care.

Families looking for a great place to raise kids can look at community health data along with school scores and crime rates. Employers can make decisions about where to locate or relocate using health data as one of the components of that decision.

This new openness on the part of the federal government has already inspired some private sector technology innovations, including interactive health maps, video games and online communities.

Bing Health Map

The Community Health Data Initiative is the next logical step in the growing recognition that empowered patients are the future of medicine, a trend that has the weight of research behind it. Patient empowerment has been found to be related to everything from adherence to how patients are viewed by their physicians.

The important thing to note is that, almost by definition, this empowerment must come from the patients themselves. But what the healthcare establishment can do, whether it’s HHS, healthcare professionals, or pharma, is make information available for those who seek to become empowered. It’s in that sense that the Community Health Data Initiative is a great leap forward.

Does pharma have a role to play in making this information useful and usable? Will all this new data be helpful to you? What do you think?

This post was contributed by Pamela Todd, Content Strategist at Siren Interactive.

(Image courtesy of plurimus on Flickr)

About Pamela Todd

Pam’s extensive work in online intelligence, competitive analysis and audits allows her to provide clients with insights into their audiences’ needs and preferences. She puts those insights to work in creating and implementing user-centric, interactive content strategies to reach targeted patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.

View other posts from Pamela

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  • http://www.EmpoweredPatientCoalition.org Julia Hallisy

    Thank you for this informative article. Our organization, The Empowered Patient Coalition agrees that empowering patients is a vital step in health care safety and quality. We have a website with many free resources at http://www.EmpoweredPatientCoalition.org and we have also launched a patient reporting survey to capture medical events from the patient’s point of view. All of our data will be transparent and we have started to release preliminary data on our website. Thanks again for covering this important subject.

    Julia Hallisy
    President, The Empowered Patient Coalition

    • http://www.sireninteractive.com Pamela

      Thanks for adding your thoughts to this post and for providing information on The Empowered Patient Coalition. It’s organizations like yours that are setting the tone for the changes that are taking place in American health care.

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