Sunday, April 1, 2012

Health Time Capsule

I have been woefully absent at blogging. I decided to try the opportunity to join a blogging challenge this month to get me motivated. Since I saw BJ Fogg speak earlier this week, I have to "facilitate my behavior change" with "tiny habits". At the very least, I will read the topic for the day. I hope to respond to at least 50% of them. Right now, let's focus on today. If you're interested in taking on this challenge yourself please go to Health activist blog challenge.

Today's challenge Health Time Capsule. Pretend you’re making a time capsule of you & your health focus that won’t be opened until 2112. What’s in it? What would people think of it when they found it?

This is interesting because I think we are on the brink of some major changes in the next 100 years. the medicine we have today as well as the way it is managed will likely change significantly in the next 100 years.

Representative artifacts for the time capsule include: photos of cancer survivors, list of support groups, and iPhone with health apps? (I'm really not sure how that would work, but this is all in theory), printouts of health websites, journals of people with long-term illness and some over-the-counter medications. Also included would be a health insurance card and a paper folder with medical records, maybe many paper folders for one person representing the disparate connections. and of course a copy of an explanation of benefits showing just how confusing the system is.

Medicine today: We are still looking for a cure for cancer. We are looking to understand Alzheimer's and dementia. We don't understand diseases on the spectrum including fibromyalgia and autism. We don't yet have a convenient way to manage diabetes. Maybe it's my age, but most people I talk to these days have some type of issue. Many friends have struggled with breast cancer, some have succumbed to other cancers and many of us struggle with a variety of serious diseases as well as annoying ones such as allergies and headaches. The US is only beginning to understand the value of alternative medicine. Western medicine does not have all the answers and things like acupuncture and other complementary care are just beginning to enter more of a mainstream consciousness.

Healthcare today: I have one word - paper. We have far too much paper for a system that relies on multiple points of view and multiple inputs in order to make a successful diagnosis and accurately manage care. Again, we are on the brink, with some offices using Personal Health Records but very few of them connecting to others. Patients still need to wait far too long to access their own personal information.

Health insurance is another issue that has finally entered the limelight. Far too many people go uncovered or do not have care that adequately covers their needs. I'm no socialist, but I really think that basic needs like food and water and healthcare and shelter should be available to everyone. those who have should help to cover those who have not. Not by handing out a dollar on a freeway ramp, but by the system taking care of everyone. Right now, there is a major struggle, with individuals believing that a government mandated service is "unfair". Isn't denying access to healthcare unfair?

Medicine in 2112: When somebody opens my time capsule in 2112, I hope that this myriad of diseases has been cured. Of course, I can't be as naïve as to think that we won't have other diseases in its place. I hope that we will have found some astounding insights into biology that really help us understand these bodies we inhabit and how to best take care of them, and yes, possibly even alter them so that they feel healthy and strong as often as possible. I went to a conference several years ago on living to be 500. Although I'm not sure that is yet an idea our society or planet can sustain, I love the idea of living a long and healthy life. If we are going to live to even 100 or 200, we need to make sure that the quality of life follows along.

Healthcare in 2112: By then, I hope late-night talkshow hosts (Will there still even be late-night talk shows? And will we watch them through the glasses that have all of our streaming video by then?) are laughing at the paper that we used to push in "the old days". A personal health record is a given. From the day you are born your health is tracked on a tiny chip, maybe an embedded chip, but at least a chip that is with you always, or perhaps you have some kind of identifier that allows cloud access to all of your information because we have also solved some of the major privacy issues. The PHR allows you understand and have insight into your healthcare, you can have a dialogue with your providers, and any EMT who finds you knows quickly and easily how to access your health information. your healthcare providers, whether or not they are in the same system, can even talk to each other!*Gasp*

I'm no science fiction writer, and maybe these goals set the bar too low, but to me, if even a few of these are true 100 years from now, we will have made some amazing progress.

No comments: