It is easy to expect that with great strides in technology, better healthcare would soon enough follow. But first, we need to put health where it belongs – top priority and that means for practitioners and technologists alike!
The Phil Hospital Association (PHA) celebrated it’s 62nd annual convention at the renowned Manila Hotel for good reason 2 days ago. This was one big bash! Judging from the program, it seemed that there were plenty of things they needed to discuss that they prepared 3 whole days for the event – from the election of officers, keynotes from high-ranking government officials, plenaries on health issues and pocket tours squeezed in for the provincial delegates. One could understand the festive mood of the occasion probably meant as a respite to the sad state of local healthcare where most of them are front-liners.
On the other hand, a smaller but none-the-less spunkier group convened on the other side of Metro Manila during the same day. The Innovation Forum – a series of scheduled discussions centered on finding creative solutions, chose to tackle ‘Advancing Universal HealthCare Through Telehealth’. Comprised of developers, academics, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders, the forum provided another avenue to discuss health in a multi-disciplinary way towards creating a technology-based solution.
A logical question that comes to mind is which of the two came closer to moving healthcare forward? And what type of event should we be doing more?
I’m afraid that the answer lies somewhere in between or what we might say a combination of both.
Big events are what they are – a logistical nightmare that should be entertaining as well. Big events require enormous financial support for both organizers and delegates alike that one boring celebration is likely to doom succeeding ones in terms of attendance. There is a reason that a lot of activities are lumped in – because the crowd is already present. Yet, what makes it less of a solution is that the mindset is unfocused, those important presentations are left to be sideshows. Sad to think that you have a big group of health stakeholders here already and everyone looks worried about fun value than addressing constituent’s health concerns. I’m sure there’s a big interest in the PHA plenaries and a lot of good can and do come out of it but then it is understandable to not feel too optimistic about its chances.
Forums are the in thing. With smaller groups, people can be less formal and discussions can be livelier and more participative. Put in a young crowd of wide-eyed student technologists and what you get is a lightning rod of idealism. But as the session went on, the optimism of technology sadly failed to meet its equal representation from the health trenches. The picture is incomplete without sufficient perspective from health providers. It is said that one key to creativity is actual field observation which I felt the young technologists need to be exposed to. As forums go, small teams still have to answer the question of diversity and multiple perspectives.
To consider both as having failed in advancing healthcare is nonetheless, brash. Quite the contrary, what these events show us is that people do care enough about improving healthcare in whatever forms and areas of responsibility they are in. In fact, we need more of these to spread awareness about healthcare and if possible, combine both, whether in terms of participants, speakers, and presenters. And we need to do it fast.
The more apps, the healthier.
We are deluding ourselves to think that the problems of healthcare can be solved if we can get everybody to come, discuss, and find a cure in one sitting. Healthcare has many facets that we need more than a few apps or health information systems to find a cure for segments, if not the whole of the populace. Improvements may come as we continue to test and deploy our assumptions until we get things right. We can put aside worry about having to scale later because unlike business, one life saved, believe it or not, is just as precious as saving a multitude.
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