Afterthoughts: Brookings Institution mobile health and health innovation event

I just hopped off a webinar, hosted by the Brookings Institution, entitled “How Mobile Technology Influences Health Innovation.” Hosted by Darryl West, the #TechCIS event included perspectives from the technology,  global health, health insurance, and medical fields. The event is also synced with a release of West’s new paper, “How mobile devices are transforming healthcare” as  part of the Mobile Economy Project.

During the 90-minute webinar, we heard experts talk about interesting programs, policy and governance challenges, the need for data management, and technology agnosticism, among many other topics. I really latched onto the broader notion that mobile has tremendous implications in the transition of global and domestic health care systems from being centered around responsive care to being centered around preventive care.

This is an issue that resonates with me. I am a firm believer that health system reform will come when we empower people to take charge of their own health care. There is something to be said about the proactive patient – the one who is an active participant in the day-to-day of her own chronic care and can communicate to her medical professional when something feels “off.” I have already studied this from a personal perspective, as a seventeen-year pediatric cancer survivor with several chronic conditions. Professionally, I have been paying close attention to mobile, and to an extent, social media, as potential tools in empowering patients to take stock in themselves as potentially healthy individuals, and increasingly, it seems that these tools will have a MAJOR role in advancing this shift. As I begin my MBA/MA Health Communications at Johns Hopkins this year, I’m excited to have an opportunity to look at this from an academic perspective, too.

As an audience participant from Booz Allen Hamilton pointed out today, we need to evolve the technology to make this active management of health care as simple as possible. She posited that people are inherently lazy; I might counter that people are wired to trend away from things that are complicated (a nod to Nudge, the book I am currently reading). If we can continue to harness people’s connections with each other to influence health decisions via mobile, Facebook, or any other emerging technology, I’m confident that we can make giant strides in health reform.

Today’s webinar shed light on several issues that I know very little about currently, such as the governance side and the data management side. I am eager to learn more and will continue to use this space as a spot to organize my thoughts.