“What about one to many or many to many?” at Health 2.0

Josh and I are in San Diego this week for the Health 2.0 Conference, and to interact with innovative California health care organizations. I think we are two of the few people in the U.S. that did not attend HIMSS last week. However, we are two of the few people in the U.S. who are attending Health 2.0.

The quote in the title was from my table at the “Unconference” which was facilitated by Enoch Choi, MD, from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. It refers to the difference between web services offered by physician groups and what could be offered.

In the kinds of conferences I go to, attended mostly by medical professionals (and in many parts of my medical group itself), I typically feel like “year ahead of my time guy.” (This post from my blog, using a cute Apple commercial, I think illustrates the dilemma well). In this group, though, I feel like “year behind everyone else guy (person)” and that’s pressure that I like. The current state of the art of patient access to their care team(s) is one to one, and in the next step should be many to many. I gave the example of a patient electing to have a surgical procedure. What might be one of the first questions they would ask. How about, “Can I talk to other patients who have had this procedure? And who have had it performed by you?”

We had a discussion about creating change and where that might happen – from within the (medical) profession or outside of it. Keith Schorsch, the CEO of Seattle-based Trusera offered the idea of the “enlightened” provider. I asked if there was a registry where we could all sign up. I was kidding though, because in my (our) travels so far, I find that all physicians/providers are enlightened, when we support them in being so. And that comes from thinking about the patient at the center.

The Kaiser Permanente Effect

Something I noticed that I need to watch out for, more carefully than I did on day 1, is the impact of being in a room of innovators as a representative of a large medical group / health plan. I say “Kaiser Permanente” effect even though I am not a Kaiser Permanante employee, but the thought/idea that permeates an audience sometimes when I/we represent ourselves and our work is the one that goes something like, “Only Kaiser Permanente/Group Health can do that kind of innovation.” That statement can be taken two ways – it can mean, “We aren’t going to do anything innovative because we aren’t structured like that.” I think in this audience, my concern is that it can be taken as, “We don’t have the ability to overcome inertia outside of a Kaiser Permanente/Group Health system.”

I think the statement in general is incorrect, and that’s good news. As I sometimes say, I am going to spend the day watching myself and listening 51 % of the time. There are a lot of smart people here working very hard to stimulate improvement in the health care system we all use; they are thinking of innovation 24/7 and I want to help make their ideas count. And pick up some new ones along the way.

Speaking of Innovation

One of the reasons we are here is to visit and shadow providers at Sharp Health Care. As you can tell from the image above, they are a leader in health care and interested in providing patient-centered health information technology. Josh and I presented our work to the group and it was well received. We’ll be shadowing in one of their medical facilities in the next two days.

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Ted Eytan, MD