Greg wanted to have positive impact on everyone around him. There is a collection of quotes in a notebook he referred to as his “book of everything

“Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not” – George Bernard Shaw

One of the things that I miss the most is our limitless discussions – Greg loved to brainstorm about anything and everything. On more than one occasion he took a different approach to something I was working on and completely changed the way I thought about it. He had an amazing ability to ignore the noise and come up with ideas that were both outside the box and completely logical.

Over the last few years our family has been a part of many conversations about our healthcare system. Sharing Greg’s story has had an impact. People talk about the “burning platform” or feeling like we are at a “tipping point” and that real change is coming. I often wonder what is going to cause the final tip and how we can push that along. We often hear from people who have been trying to change the system from within who believe (and we agree) that public pressure is going to be what makes the difference.

I have had enough exposure to the system to understand some of the lingo, jargon, acronyms, stakeholders and cultural dynamics involved. When I start ranting about something with friends and family they are often flabbergasted at what I am saying or their eyes gloss over and I can see that I have lost them somewhere along the way. I get it, I used to fear everything related to healthcare, I didn’t understand it, didn’t want to think about it, I trusted that it would be there when I need it and wanted to believe that was good enough.

I now believe that the system can and must do better for Albertans. I believe that we live in a time of incredible innovation and opportunity and that, in order to best serve patients, healthcare should be embracing how digital health technology can improve care.

I want to help change healthcare and believe that engaging the public and encouraging the use of digital health tools will contribute to that. Here are few ways existing technology can help healthcare improve patient care and provide better quality of life for everyone involved:

  • Patients are the common thread in all interactions related to their health. They should always be part of the conversation and can be valuable in the sharing of information. The patient should be in charge. Patients should be able to control, share and contribute to their own health record. Secure communication channels (that include patients) would keep the patient informed and provide them with their own a record of what was discussed, diagnosed, and prescribed.
  • Without having all the information and without being part of the conversation about their care, patients aren’t on a level playing field. The siloed healthcare system limits the exchange of information, delaying treatment in critical ways.
  • Transparency is key to a trusting relationship – more and more, technology is giving people transparency in all other aspects of their lives but healthcare is far behind.
  • Kill the fax – replace it with reliable, traceable, and inclusive communications.
  • People are different, their needs are different, and there will not be a single solution. Interoperability and integration will benefit all.

Change is coming:

  • The technology required already exists. There is a huge opportunity to develop and utilize solutions that will prove to be extremely valuable.
  • The demand from the public will cause the change. Implementation will cause cultural and workflow changes within the system.
  • Technology has penetrated every aspect of our lives and we have benefited from it. Other industries have learned to adapt and take advantage of innovation and advancement – healthcare should too.
  • Demand for better solutions from the public is coming – part of the issue holding back demand is a lack of public awareness around how technology can make healthcare more effective.
  • We need an inclusive healthcare community that values and promotes innovation. We need to collaborate, share ideas and learn from each other.

Technology isn’t the barrier – it is possible to program/code/develop any idea or solution now. We need a shared understanding of what the need, benefits and real barriers are to help fuel the willingness to change and drive the evolution of our healthcare system.

What I plan to do is share information about the current reality as well as some of the amazing tools, research and examples where digital health has made a difference. I hope that a series of posts on this topic will lead to comments, conversations and sharing of ideas. Please add comments below or reach out to me directly at teri@healtharrows.ca. I sincerely want to know what you think and hope that this will trigger the sharing of thoughts and ideas.

Greg’s sister dreams of Digital Health

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