Many years ago when I was in community development, some of the cutting edge thinkers were promoting the idea of less professionals and more community involvement in ensuring the growth, development, safety, etc of family. It was a simple but profound concept of building a care system less reliant on the ‘usual suspects’ (professionals) by involving people around a particular family who had an interest in them, who spent more time with them, and who, if integrated successfully could provide more useful and meaningful support.
There was a book I remember having to read while studying called ‘The other 23 hours’, that made the point in a residential child care environment. The book was written to encourage Child Care Workers, and to see the value and importance of their role. Social Workers in these setting often got all the glory and were seen to be the most important people in a child’s world. But as the book pointed out, a child may only see a Social Worker for 1 hour each day (and that’s a lot), there were another 23 hours in their day.
FastCompany has recently posted an article (The Future of Healthcare is social), and they’ve done a great job outlining similar thinking for healthcare, with technology as a large enabler. It makes sense in this arena as well. Our health is something that needs 24 hours of proactivity. We can’t afford or expect professionals to be available for all that time. But if we can assemble a community of people around us, who care about us, and who’ll get involved with us, and then enable it all with technology, we may find ourselves in a far healthier place than we currently are.
Even when we do our best to stay healthy, we still get sick. Coping with sickness in our already hectic lives can be challenging. In addition to looking out for her parents, Susan manages the health of her two kids, her husband, and herself, and she looks for ways to save time and money while still getting the care that they need. Recently, for example, Susan’s son woke up with a sore throat and a fever. She used an at-home strep test to rub a swab of her son’s throat culture onto a card. Within minutes, the test results confirmed her son had strep. Through an embedded RFID sensor within the card, the test results were wirelessly transmitted to her computer’s reader. On her computer, she was prompted to connect the incoming test results to her son’s personal health record. Next, she used her personal health network to book the earliest visit for her son within a 10-mile vicinity. Susan elected to electronically send her son’s strep results in advance of her appointment, allowing the receiving retail clinic to accelerate her visit by pre-issuing an e-prescription. Before leaving her computer, Susan selected her son’s classroom network, comprised of his teacher and the parents of other students, and sent out a message that her son had strep throat and would be home for the next several days.
It’s a longish read, but definitely worth it. If not just to see where health care might go, I’m fairly certain the thinking will at least change how you see other parts of your world.