Connected Health 2015: Providers must better understand people to improve health landscape

Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation Medical Director Douglas Wood believes that doctors and hospitals currently are too focused on providing healthcare for patients rather than helping people achieve healthy lifestyles.

"We have a $3 trillion industry of healthcare, but health is a little bitty part of it," he said during an executive spotlight this week at the HIMSS Connected Health Summit in Maryland.

Wood said to flip that paradigm, which he compared to a black hole with an "intense gravitational pull," providers must better fundamentally understand people to be able to deliver the right services at the right time.

Technology, such as wearables, will play a big role in achieving that goal, Wood said. They will enable doctors to provide advice based, not on prescriptive treatments from a traditional model, but rather on collaborations with patients.

"We've come to understand that in the future, there is a participatory model for behavior change that will be critical to medicine and fundamentally change medicine," Wood said. "That involves an ability for us to help people with self-analysis, making them participate in the decisions about what they want to do."

Wood believes that the exam rooms of the future will be predicated on how personal technologies allow providers to touch people in different ways. Additionally, he said that if a patient doesn't do what he wants them to do, it doesn't mean they're not adherent; rather, it means that he very likely never really understood what was motivating them in the first place.

"It's really about how people are able to receive health behaviors, and how we can partner with them to do that," Wood said.

Much of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's updated federal health IT strategic plan is focused on ensuring that patients are at the center of their care efforts.