Health 2.0 Conference Day 2: Consumer Aggregators

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Welcome to Day 2 of the Health 2.0 conference.  There was an interesting talk this morning focused on "Consumer Aggregators", which demoed new applications from WebMD, Google Health, and Microsoft Heath Vault.

Wayne Gattinella of WebMD summarized the state of affairs, saying that people want to access information on the go, and there's a drastic need for medical applications to go mobile.  According to Gatinella, this means creating applications for both physicians, in a point-of-care setting, as well as patients, who want on-demand information about their health.

All three companies agreed that people are sharing more and more personal health data online these days.  Gattinella paralleled patients sharing their medical information to using credit cards online 10 years ago.  At first, people were skeptical and scared.  After successfully trying it out a few times, fears subsided, and the convenience benefit far outweighed the perceived risk.

Each application displayed different, but equally cool, themes.  Microsoft built their application around the idea that patients should be able to customize the layout as they wanted -- place your blood pressure widget here, your LDL cholesterol level widget over there.

Google Health's application stressed the fact that less than 25% of what a doctor tells a patient during an office visit is actually remembered by that patient when they get home.  Google closes this gap in communication in the MDLiveCare application by feeding all of the doctor's notes back into the patient's Google Health record, so that the patient can recap the visit at a later time.

WebMD had a nifty iPhone application with a 'symptom tracker', which launched with of a cartoon-like drawing of a human body (i.e. the "virtual patient").  Sore ankle?  Click on the virtual patient's ankle, and you'll be presented with some common symptoms that involve the ankle, such as 'swelling', 'rash', or 'laceration'.  As the patient navigates through the menu system and answers questions, their symptoms are further refined until the system figures out what is wrong.  Ultimately, the patient is presented with a description of the possible problem, e.g. "Click here for information on ankle sprain", which takes you to the WebMD entry for sprained ankles.

I really liked how the focus of this group was "on-demand" information, and all of the applications were tailored to helping the patient gain control of their medical information.  The data is theirs to begin with, let's give them a way to harness it...