Dec 1, 2012

Viewing insanity from outer space

Think about how mental illness plays out in our world. How can ordinary people affect its trajectory?

Start by thinking small.

We have some choices in our own lives. A better diet. More sleep. More exercise. Seeing the doctor. You already have the whole list.

As we move through our days, choices show up in our homes, and workplaces, and the other places of our daily lives. Can we see and hear the clues and cries for help around us? Do we know the smallest thing that we do on the spot? Do we know how to have a chat when it matters?

As people make small choices, bigger things emerge.

And in today’s world, the things we do, the actions that emerge, all generate data.

People have always known that if you find a different vantage point, you can see different things. From the top of the hill you can see a whole battle play out. If you have binoculars, you can zoom in and pay attention where it counts.

Today’s binocular lenses are made to detect data.

In fact, today’s technology gives us practically infinite zoom focus. Ordinary people, often for free, can access data from a health care landscape that ranges from the invisible micro-wavelengths of the brain, to the microscopic ecology of our bloodstreams, the intimate details of electronic health records, to the aggregate data of our census tract, our social crowd, our church group, our zip code, our region or political entity, or for that matter, all of the earth.

We can choose a data lens that lets us view insanity from space.

Healthcare experts know this. Health care used to take place in doctor’s offices or hospitals. The economics of health care worked themselves out through individual transactions and pricing by the visit or procedure. 

Our new data lenses are catalyzing the development of new economic models for health care.

These days, in fact, healthcare no longer thinks of itself as an industry. Today, healthcare is an eco-system.

Here in Cincinnati – and maybe in your town – healthcare plays out in networks that collaborate as well as compete. Transactions that happen within these networks tend to be more expensive and reimbursable within traditional brick-and-mortar medical spaces, like hospitals and doctor offices. But now you see agents of these networks venturing farther from traditional centers. Is there a parish nurse at your church? Does your pharmacist pack a stethoscope?

There might be less reimbursement away from the center, but healthcare is investing in reaching you where you are most likely to go. That’s because supercharged data lenses have connected with the economics of health care, and health care networks are now being paid for the health status of whole populations. If you doubt this, type “accountable care organization” into an internet search box.

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