Tech Challenge Aims to Quash Readmissions
Undergirding and supporting all this will be a network of sensors, many connected to those mobile phones, which will detect any changes in daily living patterns of seniors. This technology, famously championed by Intel Fellow Eric Dishman for the past ten years, extends the telemetry of hospitals into the home, and aims to track changes in physical condition on a moment-by-moment basis, between doctor visits, which is when those changes occur anyway.
This level of healthcare system knowledge of our lives will creep out some people. I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable with my health insurance company knowing too much about my activities of daily living. But for seniors living in isolation, this trend has been coming for a long time. Japan is way ahead of the U.S. on this one, even investigating robots in the home to assist seniors.
The true disruption of linkAges is imagining the hospital or healthcare system as the hub of the social network despite these concerns. Certainly there are lots of social networks already, and in Silicon Valley, the thought of one more triggers groans from the digerati. But your garden-variety social network such as Facebook doesn't have at its core the notion of improving health, let alone something as specific as looking after seniors with an eye toward cutting readmission rates.
If this is played right, healthcare systems can become change agents for lots of ills that afflict communities and inform population health concerns. Park pointed out one health app in particular that won last year's HHS competition. Food Oasis. It allows seniors (or anyone) living in one of the infamous "food deserts," where fresh fruit and vegetables are seldom sold, to text their requests to a farmer's market which then would set up local deliveries—a system that can also lower the cost of fresh foods to all by creating a delivery mechanism more efficient than traditional grocery stores.
I will be very interested to see what apps the linkAges competition produces when the accelerator hits its July 30 deadline for the first round.
I'll be even more interested to see what DIY social services develop around PAMF when those apps hit the street, and how those apps affect readmission rates for PAMF. I also suspect this is the first of many hospital-led challenges to use communities, developers, and technology to disrupt the pace of change in healthcare.
Scott Mace is senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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