Healthcare’s Greatest Promise: Consumer Empowerment + Technological Advances

A recent Reuter’s story exclaimed, “Employees beware: Higher healthcare costs ahead.” These types of articles are really nothing new; we read every day about rising healthcare costs due to numerous factors. But this article warned that in 2012, many employers will be passing along those increased costs directly to employees. Not good news for an already cash-strapped society. The article goes on to note several ways our system could help offset costs, including prevention tactics and technology. Awareness and prevention, coupled with innovative technologies, are tried-and-true practices that are absolutely essential to a healthier America – both physically and financially.

Aetna ran an ad in the Wall Street Journal that simply read: “Smarter is doubling the likelihood your employees will take charge of their health.” The ad then prompted readers to see the proof at smarteris.aetna.com/cdhp. Of course I checked out the link. It was all about empowering people to care and become informed about their health. The website states that smarter is getting your employees to think and act like consumers when it comes to their health, to become “engaged consumers.” “Empower your workforce.” We couldn’t agree more.

No, the idea of awareness and prevention, as well as using technology to drive efficiencies is not new. But in today’s economy, and with our national healthcare woes and American’s overall wellness declining, it is gaining resurgence. And rightly so.

I attended the National Association of Chain Drug Stores conference this past week. A hot topic of conversation was, of course, healthcare costs and economics. NACDS President & CEO Steve Anderson spoke strongly about the need to work together to find innovative, patient-focused services: “This is an industry whose future vision is nothing short of transformative — with the ability to fashion a more cost-effective, more efficient and more successful healthcare delivery system.”

Of course he was focused on chain drug stores and pharmacies, specifically, but his words highlight the universal support of getting consumers involved (read: “patient-focused”) and leading with innovation.

This is exactly our philosophy at SoloHealth. As I often state, we believe in a simple equation: Education + Awareness = Action. And our SoloHealth Station consumer health and wellness kiosk has both the functionality and technology that will drive consumer education, awareness and ultimately action.

Recently, we announced that the SoloHealth Station is powered by the latest Intel® technologies. In fact, Intel released a study on the innovations and benefits behind our kiosk, which has a primary goal to help empower consumers with the knowledge and awareness of their health to propel them to act. We are thrilled to partner with a leader in worldwide technology and innovation, as we absolutely believe in the power of technology to generate a healthier America.

Although currently in a nationwide test program, we are simultaneously in conversations with many national drugstore, mass merchandisers and grocery chains, as well as healthcare providers and businesses, to discuss national deployments. In the next few years, our SoloHealth Station will reach and connect with consumers in locations nationwide, helping millions of Americans take control of their own health and helping to push us towards a vastly improved healthcare system. It’s truly a win-win healthcare technology solution for America.

We are just one of many innovative businesses and organizations helping change the tide of today’s healthcare, including Atlanta-based companies Cooleaf and simplifyMD. It’s refreshing to see businesses and organizations creating health/wellness programs and products that promote consumer empowerment through technology. Just a quick search on Google yields many examples, including the fifth-annual Health 2.0 Conference in September that will showcase innovative new products that empower consumers to better healthcare (SoloHealth is a sponsor and will attend.); Whole Foods introducing its Wellness Club pilot program in five markets with sights to go nationwide; and Sam’s Club, who often does free screenings, will roll out nationwide free diabetes and health screenings this month because, as Sam’s Club Health & Wellness SVP Jill Turner-Mitchael says, “At Sam’s Club, it’s important that members know their numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, etc. – to maintain good health.”

Another bit of news that signals the need for healthcare change? The most recent example of blurring the lines between healthcare providers and insurance providers: UnitedHealth is acquiring a California-based physician group. UnitedHealth joins a group of insurers getting in the provider business including WellPoint, Humana and Pittsburgh insurer Highmark. Why? Rising healthcare-related costs.

The facts are glaringly obvious for all: healthcare costs are out-of-control and American’s health and wellness issues and disease are rising every day, making for a quickly detriorating national healthcare system. But we know awareness and prevention leads to a healthier America. And we know that technology can help propel that to action. Let’s keep pushing forward, as an industry, towards the goal of a better and healthier America. It’s for our society and our bottom line.

2 comments Add your comment

susan

September 7th, 2011
12:58 pm

Patient involvement is certainly one of several ways to tamp the cost of health care. Even better is that by asking our doctors questions, we begin to understand what is happening with our health and learn about alternative options and treatments that are based on evidence. http://whatstherealcost.org/video.php?post=five-questions

Xiphias Team

September 16th, 2011
5:52 am

Great resource of healthcare kiosk……