Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Empowering Consumers to Prevent Disease

Today I have 2 items on my reading list:

One, “How to User in a New Era of Preventive Health Care, by Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, a consumer health-technology and medical –laboratory services company, Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2015. In her piece, she states, “Laboratory tests drive 70% if all clinical decisions. They’re used to determine whether a patient should start taking medication and, if so, which one, They help doctors decide whether a patient should undergo medical procedures or be admitted to a hospital. And they’re used to identify an individual’s risk of developing health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease,” She concludes “ People should be able to get any lab test on their own. Waiting for symptoms to a doctor’s order may be too late.”

Two, the second is Start-Up Nation: Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, two journalists who report on the Middle East (A Council of Foreign Relations Book, 2009). The authors say of their book. “If there is one story that has been largely missed despite the extensive media coverage of Israel, it is that key economic metrics demonstrate Israel represents the greatest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the world today.”

It might be argued that Silicon Valley, where Ms. Holmes hangs out, has an even greater concentration. The Obama administration has largely missed the power of innovation and entrepreneurship in reforming health care. CMS has an innovation center, but it mostly concentrates on developing Accountable Care Organizations and other organizational concepts that save the government money. And it levies a 2.3% tax on medical innovation companies’ profits.

I would like to pick up on Ms. Holmes idea and extend it.

Why not empower consumers to order their own battery of lab tests in a consumer-friendly setting, couple that order information with age, gender, vital signs and physical information (BP, pulse, weight, height, and blood Oxygen, and symptoms if any, and generate a report for consumer’s eyes only, using current available algorithms, to indicate the patients degree of health for their age and gender.

The report could be something called the Health Quotient ( normal range 75 to 125), the analogue of the IQ, and could indicate in plain language the state of their health, how to interpret the results, what to do if anything, and whether to consult with a physician. The consumer would own this report and could use it as a barometer of their health and whether it contains useful information to prevent disease. For this idea to work, consumers would have to be able to access the tests and vital data in accessible locations at an affordable price, which I believe could be in the $50 range. They could then use the report to present to their physician.

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