Influence your own healthcare

Bangkok Post

Cisco Connected Health defines a world where patient needs, rather than those of institutions and professions, determine pathways through care. Services offered by the myriad bodies making up the healthcare sector (such as the local doctor, acute hospital, pharmacy, optician, dentist, and laboratory) are provided in an integrated, rather than fragmented, way.

This vision is based on using technology to transform the efficiency of all activities relating to healthcare - from decision-making in prescribing pharmaceuticals online to providing millions of healthcare professionals with continual professional development via interactive online learning. Tele-surgery and teleconsultation allow the skills of the expert to be scaled beyond the local hospital, while home monitoring cuts back on the length of hospital stays, simultaneously improving quality of life for patients.

At the heart of the revolution are improved information flows. The information held by different organisations needs to be brought together in a cohesive record, covering each individual's every interaction with the healthcare system. This creates the scope for the direct involvement of patients in the determination and administration of their own healthcare.

The biggest obstacle to Connected Health, however, is driving systematic change across such a large number of organisations. It is the number of agencies involved in providing care that makes a transferable record necessary, but how do you standardise across tens of thousands of organisations? And do you standardise at a regional level, a national level, or across countries? In addition, while standards require central coordination, they need to be introduced in a way that imposes sufficient uniformity without stifling innovation and variation at the local level.

In a traditional healthcare environment, the patient is typically viewed simply as the person who receives treatment. In the Connected Health environment, however, patients can take an active role in their own well-being, because they have direct access to information and the ability to influence medical decisions, according to Cisco White Paper.