Aloha to Health ICT Past and Future

IMG_1162 This week I’ve been attending the 2009 Leadership Conference at the Grand Wailea on Maui.  On Tuesday morning I delivered a keynote address at this gathering of more than 300 health plan executives from the Western US.  The theme of this year’s conference is “Leading Change in the Health Care Revolution”.

My Tuesday morning session was followed by two distinguished speakers; Dr. Roy Schoenberg, CEO of Boston-based American Well Systems, and Michael Liebhold, senior researcher at the Institute for the Future based in Menlo Park.  At the conclusion of Tuesday’s sessions, Roy, Michael and I held a panel discussion to entertain questions from the audience.

IMAG0178You may recall Dr. Schoenberg and American Well Systems from one of my earlier blog posts.  I also featured American Well on one of my House Calls audio-cast programs last Spring.  As of January, every citizen in the state of Hawaii now has access to on-line medical services (telephone, messaging, and virtual web visits) from participating physicians.  Services are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  The technology powering all this comes from American Well and Microsoft HealthVaultHMSA, a leading Blue Shield Blue Cross organization in Hawaii, sponsors the American Well service for their members.  On-line medical services are covered by HMSA after a small deductible. Those who are not insured by HMSA can also access the service and self-pay.  According to Dr. Schoenberg, American Well is receiving high marks from both  physicians and patients here in Hawaii.IMG_1168

You may also recall another recent post on HealthBlog about  Health ICT.  In that post I stated that it isn’t so much the “I” (information) that is missing from most Health ICT solutions these days as it is the “C” (communication/collaboration).  Well, it turns out that Dr. Schoenberg and American Well will soon address that missing link too.  Within the next few months, IMG_1131American Well is adding some very innovative services to their web platform that will enable care team collaboration.  Clinicians using American Well will be able to facilitate referrals on the system, and even hold virtual conference calls with each other.

In Hawaii, Aloha means both “hello” and “goodbye”.  So, Aloha to ICT of the past, and Aloha to a new benchmark for health ICT; one that better meets the needs of both clinicians and patients.

Bill Crounse, MD     Senior Director, Worldwide Health    Microsoft

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