Q&A: Women’s Role in Healthcare – Part 2

In part two of our Q&A series, we reached out to industry leaders to find out how innovations in health IT will evolve in the future and the possible effects on families.

[Click here to read part one of our Q&A on the role of women in healthcare.]

How can HIT help women reduce HC costs & improve health of families?

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, MA, MHSA, Health Economist: In 2016, it’s sad to observe that women in America experience health disparities. Furthermore, women of color and in the safety net have even deeper disparities when it comes to access to treatment for for heart disease, cancers, and other conditions. Women have also borne higher healthcare costs than men, which the Affordable Care Act has attempted to address in some, but not all, respects. What can help ameliorate these disparities, both clinical and financial, is health IT deployment that is designed with and for end-user consumers. These tools must solve peoples’ real problems as they define them — not just shiny new things that seem cool in the eyes of developers, who tend to be younger men.

Health information in the hands of women is powerful, because women are the Chief Health Officers of their families. Increasingly, women are also the financial managers of their households even among married couples. So a well-designed health care tool in a woman’s hands can bolster clinical care, as well as financial wellness for herself and her family. For clinical care, good digital health tools can help her track her and her families’ “numbers,” track and schedule immunizations, and shop for right-priced and right-sized health insurance and services. By doing so, her health behaviors can imprint on her extended family, her neighborhood, and social networks, creating a virtual cycle of health engagement and community betterment.

Nick Adkins, MBA: Moms are such awesome managers, decision makers, & gatekeepers of their family’s healthcare needs that they should be the obvious choice re who to focus on re driving awareness of digital health technology.

How to overcome privacy/security concerns?

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn: Trust is the key enabler for health engagement, we learned in the first Edelman Health Engagement Barometer back in 2008. Since then, millions of patient records have been breached and consumers today are aware of the risks that electronic health records can pose when they lack proper security in the growing era of cyber-challenges. Patients should be seen as partners in data security, becoming more informed about their HIPAA rights and responsibilities. Peoples’ data are further compromised by mobile health apps, whose developers’ privacy policies aren’t generally transparent or accessible for people who are either rushed to read them or lack a sufficient level of health literacy. The needle on privacy and security concerns has moved over the past few years as more consumers check into social networks and accept a certain level of risk-for-reward in trading off their personal data for personal benefits.

Nick Adkins: Fear is going to have to stop being promoted. If we can take a picture of a check and deposit it in our bank account using our phones, then shouldn’t we be able to do secure transactions in healthcare? Answer = yes. There are lots of secure mobile health apps already on the market today.

Tools families will need to manage health in 2025?

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn: 2025 is less than a decade away, but with the pace of technology development, it’s impossible to predict the next transformational tech platform like an iPhone or Twitter. I believe that a new platform won’t be what families need to manage health in 2025, as much as the liquidity and accessibility of personal health data that will be made sensible, aggregated, and actionable in 2025. There is plenty of data around about all of us, generated in both clinical settings and via social and retail channels. By 2025, based on data standards like FHIR and peoples’ growing use of apps, consumers should be able to access personal dashboards that make sense of their data, combined with their lifestyle and values, to provide 24/7 coaching and “nudging” to good health behaviors. Based on these recommendations, consumers will then be able to access in streamlined ways “on-ramps” to care, whether for telehealth visits, remote monitoring, clinical lab testing, nutrition support and healthy grocery shopping. We’ll be doing more self-care at home and on-the-go, and bolstering our personal social determinants of health to stay well and resilient.

Nick Adkins: By 2025 the tools will be invisible. The IoT, connected homes, quantified self will be the status quo.