Our Philosophy

Health care. It is an issue that is as complex as it is personal. From our personal health concerns to the global economic impact of health care delivery, it’s not just “the medical care” alone, but a worldwide economic and political juggernaut. If you don’t believe it, consider that most of the countries of Europe and North America spend 10-14% of their gross national products (GNP) on health care expenditures.

As a physician and consumer, I deal with the issues of healthcare on a first-hand basis every day. I live one set of challenges as a provider of healthcare services, another as an employer, and others still as a patient. In my opinion, the medical aspect of “health care” generally does a good job. We are living longer and in conditions that are much better than those 100 or even 50 years ago. Think about life before the advent of antibiotics or advances such as angioplasty, cancer care, transplant, or open-heart surgery. Yes, there are things that are not perfect, yet health care is of such great importance that frankly, it should never be viewed as being” perfect” or “fixed”. We should always strive to improve our understanding of medicine, enabling technologies, and health care quality. Some of the biggest challenges in health care relate to the systems we currently use to deliver it.

Western health care delivery tends to utilize a “damage control” philosophy. Health problems occur and then they get treated. While the vast majority of health conditions are treated this way (an exception being childhood immunizations), this approach is not the most cost efficient. Considering our current levels of spending, it is unlikely that countries have the resources to continue in this mode indefinitely. Society needs to embrace the concept of being pro-active rather than re-active when it comes to health care concerns. In the long run, it’s less expensive and better medicine. Health is a lifetime commitment for those who want to get the most out of life.

One area of particular concern to all of us at TouchNetworks is the way medical information is conveyed within our current health care delivery system and its potential to adversely impact patient safety. Think about the first time you went into a specific doctors office and all of the forms you were asked to complete. While some pertained to the business aspect of medicine, most related to your personal health. In fact what you were asked to do is document of all of your past and current health problems. Those who see more than one physician find themselves completing a new set of forms (typically conveying the same information) for each particular office. Going to a hospital, emergency room, or urgent care center is no different. In these environments, nurses as well as the physician each ask the same set questions and try to collect, for themselves, the exact same information! While this sounds more like a comedy routine rather than the actions of professionals, the standard come-back is that the information needs to be checked and re-check to ensure its accuracy. Accuracy? The reality of the situation is that the source of the information is an ill patient. How many of us are really in the mood to play 1000 questions when we are not feeling well? Under these circumstances, patients may not recall remote events, omit information they consider to be insignificant or unrelated, and are likely tired of repeating themselves. Wouldn’t a better approach be for each one of us to keep a personal journal or log of our health history as it happens and keep it up to date when we are feeling well? Occurrences such as a surgical procedure, hospitalization, change in a past or present medical condition, development of an allergy, or the addition or change of a medication are all important events that need to be accurately recorded and conveyed to the professionals who require that information to improve your health. This is what TouchNetworks’ H.U.B.™ is all about.

H.U.B.™ by TouchNetworks is a secure web based environment for you to store your personal health information along with the tools to share it with those who need it. ALL of the information runs on our secure network, is encrypted, and controlled by you. We have developed a unique authorization methodology (patent pending) that lets only the people or institutions whom you authorize in advance, permission to view (or add to in some circumstance) the health information in your account. No permission, no access. Store your health history, laboratory values, pathology reports, x-ray and other imaging reports, photos, x-ray images themselves, educational information, physician or hospital notes and documents, third party content, or what ever else you find important to your health. TouchNetworks will provide you with up to 64MB storage for free for this purpose. We think of our H.U.B.™ as the essential core component of a “universal chart”. It is a simple to use, intuitive, yet extremely powerful health care tool for both you and your health care providers, but it requires a commitment from YOU, the user, to complete the information accurately and keep it up to date.

To work optimally, the H.U.B.™ needs to become as ubiquitous as e-mail accounts. The greater the participation, the greater the connectivity, and the greater the effect on the health care system. We are adopting a grass roots approach to getting started. Set up your account then tell 2 friends or family members and 1 physician about us and encourage them to sign up as well. We have no delusions about solving the world’s healthcare problems overnight. There are many issues surrounding the use of electronic medical record systems ranging from how to generate medical documents to allowing various disparate systems to “talk” to each other. We at TouchNetworks fully support those endeavors but the reality is that it will likely take years to achieve these goals. In the mean time, for physicians and patients, it is business as usual… until now. Our H.U.B.™ represents a first step in the development of a more efficient, affordable, and safe health care delivery system. We think this is the best place to start…with you, the patient, the source.

     Mark Ombrellaro, MD
     TouchNetworks, Inc.
     Redmond, WA

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