Thursday, January 18, 2007

Steve's Blog at Revolution Health and Wisdom of Crowd

While exploring Revolution Health last week I happened upon Steve Case's blog on the site and signed up for the new post alert feature since the RSS feature has not been fully activated. A recent post by Case caught my attention because is addresses some things that I have been thinking about as I prepare a presentation on Healthcare Blogging and Web 2.0 Health 2.0 for the AHLA Hospital and Health System program next month. The concept I've been thinking about is the power of consumer involvement in health care and what Case calls "wisdom of crowds".

Steve'post, A waiting room comes to life, provides a real life example of what patients, their families and friends (and even groups of strangers) go through everyday -- trying to better understand the complexity of (and often being frustrated by) the health care and insurance system.

Excerpt from Case's post:
Last week I spent a couple hours in a hospital waiting room. It was nothing urgent, just a planned procedure for somebody in my family. I expected to wait, so brought some things to read.

Initially, there was one other person sitting nearby, reading the newspaper. A few minutes later another person sat down. Then, not long after, a third.

The new arrival seemed to want to chat, so leaned over to the woman sitting near her and asked why she was there . . .

Suddenly, these three woman, who clearly had never met each other before, started getting into specifics - sharing details about their medical situations (or, in one case, their husbands situation, as he was having a procedure done while she waited).

They compared perspectives on doctors, treatment options, insurance plans, information they had gleaned from various sources - all related to the health issues they were wrestling with. Indeed, two of them started making notes, writing down some of the ideas and insights they heard from the others. . .

Watching this from afar reminded me of the power that comes from people engaging with each other, particularly when it comes to health. . .

Tonight my wife and I had a similar experience -- probably not unlike many people across the U.S. after getting the kids to sleep. We sat down to go over outstanding bills from providers, insurance premiums, health reimbursement account statements and EOBs trying to make sense of it all.

Two and 1/2 hours later we got through some of the issues that we needed to better understand. What's frightening to me is that its difficult for a health care lawyer and his lawyer spouse to understand the complexity of health care -- yet alone those across the country who are less educated, older, sicker or otherwise at the mercy of the health care and insurance system.

We would have liked to have the "wisdom of others" available tonight to help us better understand some of the things we tried to figure out.

As I reflect on 2006 our family has become more engaged in understanding our health coverage and attempt to oversee the process and manage the cost. The need to do this was largely driven by the fact that the benefits of our health coverage has been reduced over the last couple of years requiring us to now pay more of the cost associated with care/treatment. This along with the introduction of a health reimbursement account have made us more aware of the costs of care. I suspect this is a trend that is not dissimilar to many others in the country. This might be one of the motivating factors that comes into play as companies, like Revolution Health, and others try to engage the public on their health care.

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