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To: HIMSS (Health Information Management Systems Society)
       Consumer Empowerment Sub-Workgroup

From: Frank Odasz, Lone Eagle Consulting, Email: Frank@lone-eagles.com

Date: Updated November 7, 2008

RE:  Consumer Empowerment Themes

21st Century Citizen and Community Wellness Broadband Best Practices
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As the pace of change and innovation continues to accelerate, we need better ways to keep all citizens up to the same instant of progress. Broadband connections provide the opportunity to make our “human network” much more intelligent, personal, and social.

Health I.T. as related to consumer empowerment in the knowledge age is much more than simply connecting doctor’s offices and establishing electronic health records. How consumers can learn to take charge of their own wellness best practices, as well as best practices for keeping costs to a minimum, requires a more careful assessment of the integrated aspects of the online activities of citizens on behalf of personal and community wellness.

Examples of Consumer Empowerment Online Wellness Opportunities for Innovation:

E-learning for all:

            Health and lifestyle Instructional videos and websites for citizens can offer unlimited
            educational opportunity, particularly those generated by peers.

            Home health care paraprofessionals can receive training online and better
            coordinate with related professional care givers.

Cost Saving Connections
Emailing doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to reduce unnecessary travel, time, and costs.

Online prescription orders and online discount purchasing of medications can reduce costs significantly. Consumers definitely need more choices as to who they choose for healthcare, but also regarding their daily health-related behaviors and information resources. Human mentors are needed to clarify the bewildering complexity of choices.

Social Media – Retaining a social life and community connections for those homebound
Two-way video is becoming routine for maintaining family and other social connections, to include tele-counseling (already implemented in remote Alaskan Native villages) and many other educational applications.

Engaging seniors in purposeful social interaction online is fundamental to wellness on many levels. Elders wisdom and stories can be shared and preserved for all future generations via new media digital storytelling. Anyone can create online videos and be both learner and teacher, all the time, generating socio-economic capacity without the  limitations of time, distance, or costs. Mental stimulation, lifelong learning, and social interaction are only a few of the long list of benefits.

Online shopping with local delivery services, even for groceries, can lower costs by reducing unnecessary travel. (Local electric car delivery services have the potential for significant reductions in local gasoline consumption in all communities.)

Telework for Retirees
Retirees can become flextime teleworkers to retain their talents as part of our workforce to supplement their health insurance and living costs. Volunteers can contribute community service mentoring for anyone, anywhere, anytime. All elders/seniors can still engage in civic life online, to self-educate, collaborate and remain socially active, regarding social support groups for special interests and participation in disease specific support groups.

Home monitoring system innovations are proliferating and promise to lower costs related to increased home care; including online training for home care paraprofessionals and peer aids.

Trends Toward 21st Century Citizen and Community Wellness Broadband Best Practices
Without question, healthcare practitioners and patients need electronic access to personal health records. The trends in social media suggest email between consumers, health care providers, and pharmacists, can help keep costs down and can streamline effective communications. Free two-way video services are already available to anyone with a fast Internet connection in their home or community center.

Local posting of community health-related resources should include online personal health resources such as Microsoft’s Health Vault, www.healthvault.com and Google’s new health resource, www.google.com/health    Basic online searching skills and social media basics are essential. Health information is the most widely sought information type by Internet users, and the fastest growing demographic is seniors. Peer-mediated assistance finding essential information can help those who know how to access specific information assist those who do not.

Facilitating Local Online Mentors
Local communities need to identify local mentors able to assist those new to using the Internet for access to these and more specific resources such as disease specific support groups, government services of all types, and more. Such mentors could easily be trained seniors in coordination with community service programs – earning their monthly health insurance premiums by assisting others finding highly specific information and E-Government services.

Social media can be used to engage and train home healthcare agents, and consumers. Peer generated content and virtual communities of interest have already proven to be highly dynamic cost-effective ways of creating and disseminating valuable content. Peer mediated skills transfer via social media e-learning has vast untapped potential, and the rapid growth and evolution of social media for identifying new ways to meet existing needs is apparent. (Ask any teenager on myspace or facebook.) Note: Seniors are the fastest growing demographic on Facebook.com

The most recent trend for popular social media sites like MySpace and Facebook is social activism. The baby boomers have the most disposable income of any previous generation and are looking for meaningful engagement. Citizen philanthropy and peer microloans are transforming the possibilities for global community service and making a meaningful contribution direction to those in poverty worldwide. www.kiva.org www.microplace.org etc.

Social isolation is directly related to record suicide levels, particularly in remote Alaskan villages. An Alaskan Telemed program providing behavioral counseling in rural Alaskan Native villages raises the question of where does community wellness training in socially dysfunctional communities begin and end? The Canadian Aboriginal Women’s Roundtable determined the need for a social support network for isolated women suffering from domestic violence and other social dysfunctions. 

If the lack of an economy is part of the roots of depression and substance abuse, why would we not provide e-learning solutions to resolve the source of the socio-economic behavioral problems?  To prohibit such educational access via Telemed systems contradicts the hippocratic oath and common sense.

E-rate funding (universal service fund) in the past has taken a silo approach, authorizing separate broadband connections for health, and education, causing unused bandwidth to be wasted instead of shared – at the cost of the community wellness issues they were intended to assist. Some Alaskan villages have separate broadband connections for health, education, and business, due to federal policies, instead of sharing access in an economically sustainable model. Policy reform is badly needed at many levels where DC-based policy makers obviously do not understand rural realities!!

Telemedicine is often the first broadband link to many rural communities, but too often there lacks an understanding of the importance of intelligent integrated use of fast Internet connections for community wellness across the following nine essential areas; 1. Safety 2. Health 3. Education 4. Enterpreneurship 5. Ecommerce/Telework 6. Social Services 7. Culture 8.Government 9. Entertainment. The role of E-Government systems is to provide the most integrated, cost-effective, efficient systems modern technology has made possible, at our fingertips.

Health I.T. and broadband training best practices comprise 21st Century community wellness in an era of accelerating change, particularly in rural areas where the first broadband connections are often to the hospital, only. 

The dramatic health benefits of Telemed systems for entire communities require training for only those few telemed professionals, whereas the broader community wellness benefits referenced above require citizen engagement in new knowledge and relationship-building to create the community-wide behavioral outcomes that sustainable communities will require in the 21st Century.  How to participate in civic life online, and to learn-to-learn online, and to learn-to-EARN, from anywhere, has everything to do with citizen and community wellness.

The letter to Senator Tester expands on these common sense themes - with emphasis on rural and Native American Internet training.  http://lone-eagles.com/tester.htm

Quote:It will be what rural Americans learn to actually DO with broadband that will determine their level of global competitiveness and benefits.”

The  Montana Center for Sustainable Rural Families has been proposed (to MT Senators Baucus and Tester) integrating broadband access to essential information in five key areas: Jobs, Energy, Wellness, E-learning for All, and Global Citizenship. Details at http://lone-eagles.com/dillon-center.htm

The idea is to model best practices for a local “Center of Common Sense Excellence” to lower costs across the board by intelligently integrating information dissemination essential to sustainable rural families within the context of an interconnected global society and economy.


Senator Max Baucus health care reform listening session;
Barrett Hospital, Dillon, Montana 10/23/08

As you know, Senator Max Baucus is chair of the senate finance committee whose first priority is health care reform. Oct. 23, 2008 Max hosted a health care reform listening session at Barretts Hospital here in Dillon, MT, population 4000.

The Highlights Shared:

The stars are aligned for significant reform, if we miss this opportunity it might be ten years before the next one. All ideas are welcome, everything is “on the table” for consideration. Health premiums are rising 5 ˝ times faster than earnings. Since 2000 premiums have risen 88%. Most bankruptcies’ are due to health costs. Health care in the U.S. cost 50% more than the next developed nation. 16% of our GNP is spent on health care. The U.S.  is last in preventable deaths, 19/19 nations, rate: 110 /100,000. 50% don’t get the care they need, as they too often don’t come in until it is too late. 46 million are without health insurance and 25 million are under insured. 20% forgo needed care. Every industrialized nation has universal health insurance except the U.S. 160,000 Montanans have no insurance, Montana has 37,000 uninsured children, 53% uninsured Montanans work fulltime for small businesses. 18% of health costs are for administration VS 6% in the next developed country on the list. Change is needed: Medicare doesn‘t negotiate prices for drugs like all other countries do. There are financial incentives for doctors to do too many unnecessary tests, putting the more efficient doctors at a disadvantage.

Dec. 1st is the deadline for healthcare reform input for the office of Senator Baucus.


Current articles on dramatic impacts of Social Media on Consumer Empowerment, including local and Federal E-Gov opportunities.

Social Media and the Changing Consumer Experience

http://blend.cdn.fm/amex/FEED1.pdf  An exceptionally current report. 84 pages.

Social networks exploding, may appear in government
Begs the question of how to effectively engage citizens at many levels.

How Web 2.0 will Transform Local Government
A concise summary of opportunities for local innovation engaging citizens and more effectively sharing essential information.

The Portal for the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for E-Governance was launched on October 1st, 2008.  
http://cceeg.org   Seeking to model E-Gov best practices.


Representative Examples of E-learning for Healthcare Professionals:

Smart Home Smart Patience; Innovative Remote Monitoring for Acute, Chronic and Wellness care

American Telemedicine Association
www.atmeda.org  Note: UC Davis offers online courses for Telemedicine.

Home Telehealth: The Basics (online course example)
This new ATA online certificate course focuses on home telehealth applications and addresses clinical, administrative, financial and legislative issues related to implementing and sustaining successful home telehealth programs.

Health Insurance Companies Use Facebook to Provide Health Advice, Information
Health insurance companies such as Cigna and Aetna are using the social networking Web site Facebook to provide health tips and educate customers about health care decisions. Cigna recently launched free online courses, games, and podcasts about health issues that are available on Facebook and on iTunes. The company said it is aiming to educate customers by providing them with the knowledge they need to feel confident about their health care decisions. Cigna is also offering to donate clean water for a day to one child in India for every three questions a user answers correctly on its online health care quizzes, and it is providing interactive charts about both Democrats and Republicans health care plans. Aetna has created similar Web-based health care education tools, all of which are designed to educate customers in a time when health care costs in the U.S. are soaring. More at   "Insurer Gives Health Tips Via FacebookWashington Post, October


Lone Eagle Consulting Articles and Resources:

Montana Center for Sustainable Rural Families
A Center of Excellence model focusing on E-learning for all, and broadband best practices.

Reforming Educational, Economic Development,
 and Healthcare Institutions:
 An Executive Summary for State Legislators
 A Non-Technical Overview of the Impacts of Information Technologies

A summary of key points on Reform of Health Care, Higher Education, and Economic Development, for the National Conference for State Legislators.

 Health Information Technology and Community Wellness Broadband Applications

An Info-Tech Wellness Strategy
for Healthy Alaskan Native and Native American Communities


The New Digital Citizenship Imperative:
Engage to Create Positive Change, Locally and Globally
Now that we can, we must!  
 FYI: www.cns.gov is ramping up social media applications for community service applications

A Web Tour of Opportunities for Rural Innovation
http://lone-eagles.com/bresnaninvitation.htm  The most recent Lone Eagle update with key recommendations for a Montana community broadband applications showcase. Note the Tokyo Rural ICT’s  conference whitepaper  on Social Engineering: http://lone-eagles.com/social-engineering.htm Conference details are at http://lone-eagles.com/tokyo-report.htm

Lone Eagle Consulting http://lone-eagles.com