TECHNOLOGY AND YOU – GARY M. KAYE – For those of us of retirement age, dealing with healthcare is already a major concern. But if you are planning to spend part of the year away from what has been your primary residence, things can be even more daunting. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Aneesh Chopra, the former White House Chief Technology Officer who was one of the forces behind the Affordable Healthcare Act. And whether you like the Act itself, one of the components in the latest healthcare reforms will make it easier to move your medical history from one place to another. Even more exciting, the day may be close when mobile technology will enable you to keep the doctors you like no matter where you go. Right now there are apps, such as iBlueButton from Humetrix that will allow you to download three years worth of your Medicare records to your computer or mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet. And even if you’re not on Medicare, if your doctor maintains electronic medical records, you are entitled to “view, download, or transfer” those records to yourself or to another doctor. There are even secure protocols so you can do it by email.
But according to Chopra, we may be nearing the day when instead of transferring those records to a new doctor near your retirement home, you’ll be able to use the technology to stay connected to the practitioners you’ve come to know and love. Using smartphones or tablet computers, you can already connect things like blood pressure monitors, oxygen sensors, and blood glucometers. And because your tablet or phone already have cameras, your doctor could use an Internet connection to check you out remotely. The problem right now says Chopra is that such Internet consulting is generally not reimbursable by insurers. But he says that is changing as more doctors agree to participate in contract care organizations that get paid based on quality outcomes instead of fees for service. In other words, the healthier you stay, the more your doctor makes. This kind of technology monitoring is already being used in trials for things like congestive heart failure and diabetes by health plans such as Humana and Kaiser Permanente. And so far the results have been quite promising, with dramatic reductions in the rates for hospital readmissions.
In the event you do require acute care in some other location, if you’ve already loaded your records onto your smartphone, a push of a button or a scan of a code could deliver your critical records, saving time, and perhaps even saving your life.
Click here to read the entire interview with Aneesh Chopra.