Originally publised at symtym.net.
What is flower? At this time it’s an abstraction—a placeholder for several concepts centering on what would healthcare look like if…? And, more specifically what would personal health information (PHI) look like if…? A flower was chosen as the abstraction because it is easily and universally understood, regardless of language, anywhere in the world—a flower is a flower. Where a flower is flower carries the additional abstraction that there is a common ground—characterized by property and implementation.
Wonder if PHI were to be characterized as personal property? A property that is permissively shared with family, friends, and health enterprises. A property that was complete and whole, and personally accessible anywhere on any device capable of providing a browser window. A property that could be permissively and directly shared with a health enterprise, regardless of the origin of the information at the time it was created. This property would also be accessible by any health enterprise on any device capable of providing a browser window.
Such a property, with such a degree of permissive accessibility, widely implemented would have two striking effects. First, it would serve to standardized the act of accessing PHI to a set of software and hardware configurations that would guarantee a browser window offering this capability. Second, because of its wide implementation it would drive the unit cost of a single installation (device) significantly downward. We have seen and experienced this in the evolution of email from a computer and software application standpoint to a free web service accessible on a multitude of devices. What is needed is not a new technology, what is needed is the leveraging of user devices, user interfaces, and user expectations of ease–of–use with existing secure communication protocols.
If PHI is a personal property meant to be shared, than the constructs of accessibility must be readily and massively available now. If not, then we have negated the notion of personal property for the many, because only the few will have the means. We would also create (what we have now) a prohibitive cost of implementation and siloing of PHI. Where there is a tremendous cost to implement, there is a tremendous vesting of property interests (by enterprises) contrary to the notion of PHI as personal property. Where cost to implement is zero or very low the conflict between property interests may become zero to low.
Wonder if PHI were to be implemented in a simple, consistent, and easily accessible manner? Where the number of human health conditions, including the ailment subset, must be presented in a simple and consistent manner. For PHI to be permissively accessible anywhere and on any device capable of providing a browser window will require that those conditions have both a standardized content structure and standardized content meaning: syntax and semantics. Simple and consistent can only mean a single universal syntax and semantics.
Simple and consistent will need to force a common syntax and semantics. It must also force a common secure communication modality to assure an easy and permissive accessibilty anywhere and on any device capable of providing a browser window. Massive adoption depends not on elaborate means for exchanging and standardizing existing PHI, but rather upon common syntax, semantics, communication protocols, and a standard method of presentment—the browser window. It’s this common anatomy or form of PHI massively implemented that will drive down costs and potentially neutralize the enterprise versus personal property interests in PHI.
Why speak flower? Because it conjures simplicity and consistency—which conjures universal availability and accessibility. A common vocabulary carried on a common band presented in a common manner. Regardless of our personal standing in society we all have a common relationship—that at some time, past, present, and future, we are patients. This commonality of this relationship begs that the information pertaining to that relationship be treated in a common fashion. We all benefit when we consider that we are all patients.