Healthcare Technology is our Friend. Embrace It, Empower It.

Technology is dramatically changing our everyday lives, both personally and professionally. Think about it from your own perspective: You probably own a smart phone, participate in social media as well as shop, research and communicate online, use iPads or other tablets, and increasingly use your mobile device to access all sorts of information on-demand. Technology does make our lives easier, and it certainly gives us access to information and knowledge in real-time, right at our finger tips. That’s empowering for both consumers and business. And that certainly rings true with healthcare and wellness.

Last week, “The Future of Connected Health Devices” was released and revealed that consumers are increasingly turning to technology to manage various health issues and wellness goals. The study also showed that consumers are increasingly seeking products that will give them the ability to connect with physicians, healthcare providers and gather information. As the study noted, we must tap into today’s “Information Seeker.”

Advancements in technology are enabling smarter, connected personal healthcare platforms that make it possible to deliver solutions that meet the needs of these information-seeking consumers and help towards reducing overall healthcare costs.

At SoloHealth, we believe strongly in technology’s ability to empower and educate consumers. In fact, our entire business model is based around the simple equation: Education + Awareness = Action. Our newest product, the SoloHealth Station, is a next-generation, comprehensive consumer healthcare screening kiosk that will be accessible across numerous consumer platforms. The Station gives users a free overall health assessment, health/medical information, and recommendations for follow up care, including access to a database of local doctors and healthcare providers. The SoloHealth Station aims to empower consumers with the knowledge that can lead to prevention and lower healthcare costs for millions of Americans.

Consumers are seeking technologies that empower them and provide real-time, on-demand information and access. Smart phone growth is exploding, with sales on target to exceed 420 million in 2011. In fact, the shipment of smart phones officially passed PCs in Q4 2010. One in five U.S. consumers will own a tablet device by 2014. And all these mobile devices mean consumers will demand healthcare access on the go and on-demand.

Our government is certainly watching the mobile markets. Last week, the FDA released their guidelines for mobile medical apps, in anticipation and control of the increasingly crowded mobile healthcare app market.

Of course mobile and mobile applications and platforms are just one of many healthcare technology advancements, albeit very important. Consider a few more studies and news stories released just in the last few days alone, all related to technology’s ability to empower consumers and lead to a healthier America:

 A newly released paper entitled, “Modernizing Rural Health Care: Coverage, Quality and Innovation,” explores numerous topics around rural Americans and healthcare, including how more use of technology can more efficiently promote healthier rural communities.

 The Mayo Clinic just launched a new digital health community called, Mayo Connect, to help foster community digital information and sharing.

 Aetna hosted a White House Technology Innovation Summit, seeking to expand healthcare IT for our system and consumers’ benefit. Aetna’s chief medical officer, Lonny Reisman, M.D., hit the proverbial nail on the head: “The delivery and coordination of healthcare services in America must change,” and then went on to encourage further, rapid innovation in the development of healthcare technology.

Our government, of course, has already rolled out a number of programs with healthcare access, technological advancements, and consumer benefits in mind, most notably the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI). The CHDI’s core strategy is to publicly release data to encourage the production of products, platforms, applications and services that will serve citizens and the overall system. The basic idea is that knowledge and education can empower citizens to act. Other programs include the National Prevention Strategy, National Quality Strategy, and the HHS’s General Prevention site.

Bottomline: For all of us in the healthcare industry, and as consumers ourselves, technology is our friend. We should continue to embrace and empower it. Many cutting-edge entrepreneurs and businesses are exploring and producing amazing products, services and platforms that can and will lead to an overall more healthier, efficient and effective American healthcare system. But we will only get there together, as an industry, working, innovating and supporting towards that goal.

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