The Future of Healthcare is Waiting for Us

Fast Company looks into the future of eHealth in a feature article about Susan, a 39 year-old cartoon with not just her own health to worry about, but her children's and parents' health as well.  She's a busy woman, so she finds it convenient to watch her own gluten intake, check her child for strep throat, and monitor her father's scrabble scores using her mobile device ("phone" hardly seems like the right word for such a machine...).

eHealthThe big argument here is twofold: First, that the continuous self-monitoring of your health through a variety of mobile and e-applications will make for more efficient and positive health outcomes than sporadic, occasional-trip-to-the-doctor monitoring.  Second, as the title encapsulates, "the future of healthcare is social"-- i.e., we'll be watching each other's health.

There's something a little eerie about uploading everything from your blood sugar levels to photographs of irregularities on your skin to the great cloud of networked devices. One of the biggest challenges eHealth proponents will face is reassuring prospective users of their privacy and security.  There will be other hurdles, too: getting medical records online and integrating them with the mobile network, creating user interfaces that are comfortable, comprehensive, and easy to use, etc. 

But the technology, by and large, is already here.  That's what is so exciting about this mobile space.  Technology has been advancing so quickly over the past few decades, that it has left every other part of our society in the dust.  We have the capability to do amazing things with what we already have, somebody just needs to imagine it and do it.

I'll be at an event hosted by Brookings this Thursday on "Consumer-Driven Medicine," which will look at how mobile and other technology can improve health outcomes. Let me know if you'll be there, too.  Otherwise, follow my live-tweeting during the event, and look out for a likely blog post afterwards.