Recently the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) held a conference on the “Future of Health and Wellness.” One of the major takeaways from the conference (according to CIO magazine) was “6 Innovations That Will Change Healthcare.” These are:

  1. Reality Mining: Using Data to Influence Healthy Behavior
  2. Social Networking: For Best Results, Group Like-Minded People
  3. Usability: Give Users Something Familiar
  4. Home Care: Make It Easy, Involve Everyone
  5. Emotion Sensors: For the Willing, Anything Can Be Monitored
  6. Wellness Counseling: Sometimes, People Like Talking to Computers
That’s certainly a good list, but hardly ground-breaking I suspect. And none of these address the problem I encountered in moving from California to Maryland a couple of years ago which necessitated a change in health providers.

Both my California Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), and my Maryland HMO, Kaiser-Permanente (KP), have good on-line presence. Both allow me to make appointments, see test results, contact my medical practitioners, re-authorize prescriptions and more through my web browser. All good, but Kaiser should definitely plan on an upgrade to address a number of usability issues.

What astounded me, though, was that there was no way to transfer information – test results, diagnoses, prescription information, etc. – from PAMF to KP! Nor, for that matter, was it possible to go in the other direction. Likewise, I could not give my KP primary care physician a “proxy” to see my PAMF data. All I could do was to bring up the data in the PAMF site, highlight, copy and paste into a word processor document, then print it and carry it to my KP physician.

That does seem like a 19th century answer to a 21st century problem. But I wouldn’t have brought it up if I didn’t have an idea about how to solve it, and the answer is LMP – Life Management Platforms.

My colleague Martin Kuppinger, in his Advisory Note “Life Management Platforms: Control and Privacy for Personal Data, ” says that: “Life Management Platforms will change the way individuals deal with sensitive information like their health data.”

Now one reason why I can’t easily port data from one healthcare provider to another is the requirements of the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Two major elements of that act are privacy and security. Summaries (if you can call a 25 page document a “summary”) are available from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The privacy summary states: “A major goal of the Privacy Rule is to assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public's health and well being,” which is all well and good, but almost all healthcare providers have chosen to not allow the actual individuals described by the data to really have much control in its use – except, as I noted, using 19th century tools.

Now as Martin will tell you (and keep telling you until the concept sinks in) Life Management Platforms are much more than Personal Data Stores, much more than some personal database of attributes and identifiers. While the LMP does integrate with a full panoply of attributes and identifiers it also – and, indeed, must – interact with what another colleague, Craig Burton, calls “the API Economy.” With an open, accessible Application Programming Interface (API), My LMP could interact with each of my healthcare providers, move data to my personal health record datastore and move it to another healthcare provider as needed. For emergency situations I could foreseeably have an API connection between my healthcare data and an organization such as the MedicAlert Foundation so that up-to-the-minute information was available to first responders and other emergency service providers through the contact details on my MedicAlert bracelet or pendant – whether I was conscious or not.

Of course, most of the “6 innovations” CIO magazine was touting as necessary for modern healthcare are also easily enabled with Life Management Platforms:

Reality Mining (Innovation #1): Using Data to Influence Healthy Behavior – a mobile device collects data, stores it in your health record, then combines it with very large data sets (perhaps with a cloud based service) to correlate activities/lifestyles with both good and bad health effects. Another API-based service can then take this data and formulate a personalized health plan (see innovation #6), or suggest social networking opportunities to reinforce that health plan (Innovation #2).

Usability (Innovation #3): Give Users Something Familiar – the LMP provides a common user interface for all of its functions – a major improvement over today’s mish-mosh of services and applications designed only to stand on their own.

Home Care (Innovation #4): Make It Easy, Involve Everyone – using open APIs, caregivers as well as emergency monitors and providers could have the information they need – and, from a privacy perspective, only the information they need – to insure continued good health without the need for early institutionalization. Health monitoring systems, by the way, as part of the Internet of Things, can easily interface with the Life Management Platform thus satisfying Innovation #5, Emotion Sensors: For the Willing, Anything Can Be Monitored.

Wellness Counseling (Innovation #6): Sometimes, People Like Talking to Computers – this almost perfectly describes a relatively easy to implement LMP service that would ensure individuals understand their prognosis and course of action, but also take a major role in implementing those activities.

Hopefully you’ve seen that Life Management Platforms are just what the doctor ordered for 21st century healthcare. But the really amazing part is that healthcare is only one small area in which LMPs can improve our lives. Banking, insurance, shopping, travel, lifestyle, food, social and work responsibilities – almost everything we do in our lives can be enhanced through a Life Management Platform.

We’ll be covering LMPs (and the API Economy as well as the Internet of Things) in more depth at the European Identity and Cloud Conference in May. I hope to see you there.