Sometimes it takes a personal event to drive home the
importance of the work we are doing. In my case, it was the frustration
I experienced in trying to sort through the healthcare events that led
to my father’s death.
For 30 years, I have worked with next generation communications technologies to make applications simpler and more accessible to everyday people. Ironically, when my father died of complications from diabetes, I happened to be investigating the emerging role of broadband technologies in remote disease monitoring for next generation healthcare strategies.
As I relived the experience after his death, I imagined how much he could have benefited from a technology that could deliver relevant information and multiple viewpoints. I imagined what difference it could have made if his glucose levels had been provided to a clinician twice a day. How much would it have helped had he been a member of an online support group who checked in on each other regularly? What if he had been sent an online reminder to refill his insulin prescription as well be more faithful to his daily doses, and wouldn't it have been nice for us all if his friends and family could have been regular participants in this same virtual community?
Shortly after Dad’s death, I turned my attention full-time to technologies that might transform the quality of life for diabetics and other chronic disease sufferers. I immersed myself in blogging and other “participatory web 2.0” phenomena, and I realized that the possibilities available with the convergence of healthcare information and social networking trends were even greater than I had guessed. Not only can harnessing these trends save corporations billions of dollars, but in doing so, it can also dramatically improve the health, wealth, and happiness of all healthcare consumers by empowering and incentivizing them to take control of their healthcare and make better informed decisions.