I’m not making this up; it’s a wonderful thing. MassMEDIC, the Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council, is looking at the future of “connected health” devices. They’ve got a survey that’s been given to all kinds of industry and policy people, and now, blow me down, they want patients to take the survey too.

DO IT!  Go get your friends. Let’s make this invitation rewarding to the industry people who invited us.

The link to the survey is at bottom. But first, if you’re not up on what connected health is, get informed. Here’s a start.

The Wikipedia article defines it nicely:

Connected Health is a term used to describe a model for healthcare delivery that uses technology to provide healthcare remotely.

Connected health aims to maximize healthcare resources and provide increased, flexible opportunities for consumers to engage with clinicians and better self-manage their care. It uses technology – often leveraging readily available consumer technologies – to deliver patient care outside of the hospital or doctor’s office.

Connected health encompasses programs in telehealth, remote care (such as home care) and disease and lifestyle management, and is associated with efforts to improve chronic care.”

I’d add that it’s not just about chronic care.  In my grand semi-educated vision, we’d have all kinds of devices:

  • My blood pressure machine already has USB and uploads data to my PC. (I want it to have wifi and upload data to my doctor.)
  • My bathroom scale should do the same, eh?
  • Why not let diabetics’ CGM devices (continuous glucose monitors) should upload their readings into their personal health record?
  • Cardiac monitors could do the same. (An example that may or may not be on target is Holter monitors.)
  • And so on and so on.

All that data would be online (just like your bank statement) and both you and your consultant/doctor could view it. And clever software could monitor it for you.

A key principle, in my view, is that automation works: things that are automated get done much more reliably than things that I have to remember and “get around to.”

There’s no better example of this in my life than computer backups. Over the years I spent over a thousand dollars on well-intentioned backup devices and software: Zip drives, external hard drives, tape drives. Mind you, I know the right way to do backups (full backup monthly or weekly, incremental in between, blah blah blah) but knowledge isn’t action. (In medical lingo I was a “non-compliant” backer-upper.)

Y’know what works for backup? Carbonite: you start it running and it runs in the background, continuously backing up your data over the internet. So, last November, when we visited a delicious B&B in Provincetown and I just happened to drop my computer on a gorgeous tile floor, I put in a new disk drive and all my data came back. (It took 3 days, but nothing was lost. It worked. I only had to reinstall my applications.)

So I’m like all over the idea of connected health gadgets that gather data and pump them out to elsewhere.

The survey is a dozen questions, and takes 5-10 minutes. You can start it and work your way through and stop and come back later. I did that, to let myself think.

Be aware, this is a business survey, so a lot of the questions about what factors will help or hinder adoption of the technology.  On some, I had to use “Other” and enter “I have no idea” or “There’s no one single cause.” Express yourself!

One last note: the final question is “In what way could Connected Health be most beneficial to you?” It’s an open text box, and you’re invited to type a personal note about your condition or particular interests, if you want. (That topic wasn’t designed into the survey, but they said we could use it that way, if we want.)

The survey starts here.

Thanks to MassMEDIC for including the ultimate stakeholder in the research, and especially thanks to researcher Vaishali Kamat of Cambridge Consultants, who met with me in Harvard Square one rainy Sunday for more than an hour and who returned today, inviting patients to participate in the survey.

DO IT! And go get your friends. Have them study up, think, and respond. Deadline is August 15.

p.s. If you become a Carbonite subscriber, tell ’em I sent you so I get referral points toward my free toaster. And, be aware that their tech support is, well, offshore: a chat session yesterday started with the rep saying “I will defiantly help you with same.” (I replied “Are you angry?”) (Yes, I did.)  But we eventually got it done.