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At SXSW, Hipsters Look for Healthcare Tech Tipping Point

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, March 13, 2012

But smartphones are no panacea, not in a country where 10,000 people a day will turn 65 for the next 20 years, and where thousands of phones without passwords are lost or stolen annually.

There was a palpable sense of frustration here, of would-be killer apps that clinicians can't or won't deploy, of the hours wasted by physicians who would like to enable tech to do the repetitive tasks that it's good at, but which the current legal and reimbursement system won't support.

"The AMA code about the physician uses of social media is all about the risks you incur in doing so," says Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital. "It isn't really about the opportunities for connecting with patients or curating information during a period of time between wellness visits.

"Two of my employees in my clinic were fired in the last ten days for HIPAA violations. You can imagine how the other 260 doctors in the clinic feel when I try to encourage them to comment on my blog," says Swanson, who is known for her online handle "Seattle Mama Doc."

More and more patients want to use tech to help caregivers. As one session description put it, it's easier for patients to update their status on Facebook than it is to update their health history.

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2 comments on "At SXSW, Hipsters Look for Healthcare Tech Tipping Point"


PJoseph (3/14/2012 at 10:54 AM)
Hey, Tom Noland and Shankar Ram of Humana. If Humana is serious about really helping customers, why did you send me, a long-time Humana customer, a paper calendar with pretty pictures on it? Is that an idea from your innovation center? How does that help me be healthier? How does that reduce healthcare costs? Is sending me a calendar the best way to spend your 20%? I don't think so. For your innovation center, hire people from Zappo's and Netflix, not healthcare, who really know how to motivate me to change my behavior, reward me for doing what's best, and make me feel good about it. Align your SXSW speeches with action, please. Change to healthcare delivery cannot happen without bringing in successful people from OUTSIDE healthcare.

Doug Naegele (3/14/2012 at 9:37 AM)
The line "Smartphones are no panacea..." is a great one, in that it acknowledges that not all patients are healthy, upper-income iPhone users. SmokefreeTXT, a product Infield Health built for the National Cancer Institute, works on SMS specifically to reach a non-smartphone market: teens. Let's remember that the very people who need health advice are sometimes not carrying shiny iPhone 4S's. Doug Naegele Infield Health