I have posted a number of previous notes about predictive and preventive medicine (see: Preventive and Predictive Medicine as Components of the Healthcare Continuum, The Relationship Between Predictive and Preventive Medicine). Lab medicine professionals can play a leadership role in predicting disease and monitoring how lifestyle changes can prevent the onset of more serious disease. Think genomic testing, biomarkers, and lipid profiles. John Moore who blogs over at Chilmark Research returned rather depressed from the recent HIMSS conference in Chicago (see: HIMSS’09 & Depression). Here's what he had to say about the event:
I am in basic agreement with John about the need for a greater focus on wellness and not disease in our healthcare system. An interesting facet of this discussion is the role of HIT in the promotion of wellness. Unfortunately, I don't believe that most physicians, hospital C-suite executives, or HIT professionals are going to "see the light" any time soon and begin thinking about how to keep consumers healthy. In fact, I can't recall any physicians around me discussing consumers at all. The reason is that the physicians are not selling what many consumers may increasingly want to buy, which will be the means and methods to stay healthy.
If I am correct that the clinical lab industry has a role to play in predictive/preventive medicine, then surely the major HIT instrument of lab professionals, the laboratory information system (LIS) or some extension of it, has a role to play in this enterprise. I presented a "booth lecture" at HIMSS on this topic (see: How Predictive/Preventive Medicine Will Change Healthcare Medicine Will Change Healthcare Delivery and the IT That Drives It) and I am now in the process of discussing with executives of a major LIS vendor the nature of the support that the LIS can provide for wellness.
I suspect that the it would impractical to designate some part of the LIS, in its current form, as a "wellness domain" because many physicians and nurses have little interest in this topic. In the mini-lecture linked to above, I come to the conclusion that the tethered personal health record (PHR) can and should be the repository for copies of lab test results relating to wellness because these records are being developed and maintained by and for the healthcare consumers themselves. Given that PHRs will be web-based, it will also be feasible within them to provide links to wellness resources on the web about how consumers can improve their health and prevent illness using lab test results as guides.