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Número de publicaciónUS20120284050 A1
Tipo de publicaciónSolicitud
Número de solicitudUS 13/280,653
Fecha de publicación8 Nov 2012
Fecha de presentación25 Oct 2011
Fecha de prioridad5 May 2011
También publicado comoUS20120284298, WO2012151193A1, WO2012151194A1
Número de publicación13280653, 280653, US 2012/0284050 A1, US 2012/284050 A1, US 20120284050 A1, US 20120284050A1, US 2012284050 A1, US 2012284050A1, US-A1-20120284050, US-A1-2012284050, US2012/0284050A1, US2012/284050A1, US20120284050 A1, US20120284050A1, US2012284050 A1, US2012284050A1
InventoresRoger Alan Mason
Cesionario originalRoger Alan Mason
Exportar citaBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Enlaces externos: USPTO, Cesión de USPTO, Espacenet
System and Method for Improved Healthcare Delivery
US 20120284050 A1
Resumen
Embodiments of the invention are directed toward a interactive system and method for improved health care delivery operated over a network in conjunction with a user device. The user device is connected over the network to an identification module which may be operable to identify a patient and associate that patient with pre-established criteria. A screening module allows a user to enter data into the user device which relates to the patient's pre-established criteria, while a monitoring module determines whether the patient has complied with the criteria. An output module may transmit information relating to the patient's compliance to the same, or another, user device. The invention may also include a database for storing information transmitted by the output module, an instant communication interface and an incentive generation engine for randomly selected or specifically targeted users.
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Reclamaciones(20)
1. A computer-implemented system for providing improved health care delivery to a patient through communication over a network, the health care delivery system comprising:
at least one user device associated with a user, the at least one user device being operable on the network;
a processor for implementing at least one of:
an identification module operable to associate the patient with at least one pre-established criterion;
a screening module for allowing the user to enter data into the at least one user device relating to the at least one pre-established criterion for the patient;
a monitoring module, operable to determine, based at least in part on the data entered into the at least one user device, whether the patient has complied with the at least one pre-established criterion; and
an output module for transmitting information relating to the patient's compliance with the at least one pre-established criterion to at least one receiving user device;
a database for storing information transmitted by the output module;
an instant communication interface; and
an incentive generation engine in communication with the output module, the incentive generation engine being operable to assign at least one reward to at least one patient or user.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein the user device is further operable to access a diagnostic inquiry module for the purpose of assisting in the diagnosis of a patient.
3. The system of claim 1, wherein the database is operable to associate the information relating to the patient's compliance with the at least one pre-established criterion with an electronic medical record.
4. The system of claim 1, wherein the user is a health coach.
5. The system of claim 4, wherein the user regularly enters data into the at least one user device relating to the at least one pre-established criterion for the patient, at predetermined intervals.
6. The system of claim 1, wherein the user is the patient.
7. The system of claim 6, wherein the user regularly enters data into the at least one user device relating to the at least one pre-established criterion for the patient, at predetermined intervals.
8. The system of claim 1, wherein the instant communication interface is selected from a group consisting of: a telephone hotline, instant messaging functionality, video chat functionality, text messaging service or web form.
9. The system of claim 1, wherein the incentive generation engine is operable to designate a subset of qualifying patients, and to randomly select at least one winning patient from the subset of qualifying patients to win the at least one reward.
10. The system of claim 1, wherein the incentive generation engine is operable to designate a subset of qualifying users, and to randomly select at least one winning user from the subset of qualifying users to win the at least one reward.
11. A computer-implemented method for providing improved health care delivery to a patient through communication over a network, the method comprising:
associating at least one user device with a user, the at least one user device being operable on the network, and being further associated with an instant communication interface;
identifying, by an identification module, the patient;
entering, by a screening module, data into the at least one user device relating to at least one pre-established criterion for the patient;
determining, by a monitoring module, whether the patient has complied with the at least one pre-established criterion by monitoring the data entered into the at least one user device, the monitoring module being implemented by a computer processor;
transmitting, by an output module, information relating to the patient's compliance with the at least one pre-established criterion to at least one receiving user device;
storing the information transmitted by the output module in a database; and
assigning, by an incentive generation engine in communication with the output module, at least one reward to at least one user or patient.
12. The method of claim 11, further comprising accessing a diagnostic inquiry module for the purpose of assisting in the diagnosis of a patient.
13. The method of claim 11, further comprising associating the information relating to the patient's compliance with an electronic medical record.
14. The method of claim 11, wherein the user is a health coach.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein the user regularly enters data into the at least one user device relating to the at least one pre-established criterion for the patient, at predetermined intervals.
16. The method of claim 11, wherein the user is the patient.
17. The method of claim 11, wherein the user regularly enters data into the at least one user device relating to the at least one pre-established criterion for the patient, at predetermined intervals.
18. The method of claim 11, wherein the instant communication interface is selected from a group consisting of: a telephone hotline, instant messaging functionality, video chat functionality, text messaging service or web form.
19. The method of claim 11, further comprising designating, by the incentive generation engine, a subset of qualifying patients, and randomly selecting at least one winning patient from the subset of qualifying patients to win at least one prize.
20. The method of claim 11, further comprising designating, by the incentive generation engine, a subset of qualifying users, and randomly selecting at least one winning user from the subset of qualifying user to win at least one prize.
Descripción
    PRIORITY
  • [0001]
    This application claims priority from provisional application Ser. No. 61/482,683, filed on May 5, 2011.
  • [0002]
    This application relates to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/220,953, filed Aug. 30, 2011 “System And Method For Implementing A Diagnostic Software Tool,” filed on Aug. 30, 2011, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • [0003]
    The present invention relates to the operation of an improved health care delivery system, and more particularly discloses an integrated network configured to encourage preventative care by facilitating patient communication with healthcare workers and providing incentives for compliance with objectives.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0004]
    Today's policymakers are searching for ways to reduce the burden of continuously rising medical costs. Health care cost inflation has persisted even in light of various policies and programs implemented by the government (state and federal), employers, and insurers. Indeed, states with a high proportion of Medicare/Medicaid recipients often face resulting shortfalls in healthcare budget, due to a scattered variety of providers and payers administering uncoordinated medical services. Without a central, comprehensive administration, the system is costly and fails to provide the highest quality of medical care. Moreover, this system often leaves patients feeling powerless and disenfranchised.
  • [0005]
    Unsurprisingly, this imperfect approach to health care has resulted in a variety of undesirable consequences for patients, for instance, a lack of preventative care treatment options. Indeed, patients identified with risk factors for a certain condition or illness often lack the knowledge and/or resources to engage in a program of treatment, particularly with regards to preventative treatment. Moreover, most healthcare facilities lack the resources that would be required in monitoring patient compliance with preventative treatment. In addition, patients may find it difficult to review and perceive their own progress, which also discourages long-term compliance. Accordingly, it would be advantageous to these patients to have a centralized system for encouraging compliance with a particular treatment program.
  • [0006]
    Compounding the fact that patients are often unwilling or unable to monitor their own treatment is the common lack of frequent, or even regular, communications between patient and qualified health care professional(s). Because one physician typically sees many patients, it can often be difficult for patients to contact the physician with specific questions, particularly outside of regular business hours. Accordingly, it would be advantageous to these patients to have a way of communicating with health care professionals regularly and reliably, outside of regular operating hours.
  • [0007]
    These problems with communication are further exacerbated by the fact that one patient may see more than one physician—for instance, a patient may see both a primary care doctor and a specialist. Patients may therefore be confused about which physician to contact with, for instance, questions about a particular treatment option. Similarly, one physician may not be adequately informed as to what the other physician is doing, which can cause disruptions in a patient's treatment as well.
  • [0008]
    Another shortcoming of the current health care system is that it lacks any sort of incentive program for patients. Due to a number of possible factors, patients may be unwilling to engage initially or to maintain a program of treatment. Accordingly, it would be advantageous to these patients to have an incentive to participate in a program which encourages the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.
  • [0009]
    Accordingly, the present invention is directed toward a system and method for improved health care delivery which provides for improved communication between a patient and the patient's health care professionals. This system encourages preventative care by facilitating patient communication with healthcare workers and providing incentives for compliance with objectives.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0010]
    In one aspect of the invention, a computer-implemented system operates to provide improved health care delivery to a patient through communication over a network. The system comprises: at least one user device associated with a user, the at least one user device being operable on the network; a processor for implementing at least one of: an identification module operable to associate the patient with at least one pre-established criterion, a screening module for allowing the user to enter data into the at least one user device relating to the at least one pre-established criterion for the patient, a monitoring module, operable to determine, based at least in part on the data entered into the at least one user device, whether the patient has complied with the at least one pre-established criterion and an output module for transmitting information relating to the patient's compliance with the at least one pre-established criterion to at least one receiving user device; a database for storing information transmitted by the output module; an instant communication interface; and an incentive generation engine in communication with the output module, the incentive generation engine being operable to assign at least one reward to at least one patient or user.
  • [0011]
    In another aspect of the invention, a computer-implemented method for providing improved health care delivery to a patient operates through communication over a network. The method comprises: associating at least one user device with a user, the at least one user device being operable on the network, and being further associated with an instant communication interface; identifying, by an identification module, the patient; entering, by a screening module, data into the at least one user device relating to at least one pre-established criterion for the patient; determining, by a monitoring module, whether the patient has complied with the at least one pre-established criterion by monitoring the data entered into the at least one user device, the monitoring module being implemented by a computer processor; transmitting, by an output module, information relating to the patient's compliance with the at least one pre-established criterion to at least one receiving user device; storing the information transmitted by the output module in a database; and assigning, by an incentive generation engine in communication with the output module, at least one reward to at least one user or patient.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS AND EXHIBITS
  • [0012]
    The purpose and advantages of the present invention will be apparent to those of skill in the art from the description in conjunction with the appended exhibits:
  • [0013]
    FIG. 1 a is a block diagram illustrating a health care delivery system environment in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
  • [0014]
    FIG. 1 b is a block diagram illustrating a health care delivery system environment in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
  • [0015]
    FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a computer system implementing a health care management engine in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
  • [0016]
    FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating an operating method for the health care delivery system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
  • [0017]
    FIG. 4 is a flow chart illustrating a method of inputting data in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0018]
    Embodiments of the invention include a system and method for improved healthcare delivery. Users of the networking system may be, for instance, enrolled in a program administered by a hospital.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 1 a is a block diagram illustrating a health care management system environment in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. A plurality of network user patients 10 a, 10 b . . . 10 n are connected over a network 30 to a health care networking system 40. Participating Network User Healthcare Professionals 20 a, 20 b . . . 20 n are also connected over the network 30 to the health care networking system 40. A program management organization 50 supplies a health care management system 60 for operating in conjunction with the health care networking system 40. The program management organization 50 may also be connected over the network 30 with the health care networking system 40. However, the program management organization 50 may also be integrated with the health care networking system 40 more directly, such as by providing the health care management system 60 for direct operation through the health care networking system 40.
  • [0020]
    The network user patients 10 a, 10 b . . . 10 n may typically be individuals connecting over the network 30 through the use of user computing devices such as desktop, laptop, or computing devices. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the system may also be compatible with handheld wireless devices, such as a smartphone (e.g., an iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device, etc.) or tablet device (e.g., an iPad). The network user patients 10 a, 10 b . . . 10 n may be required to be members of the health care networking system 40. In another embodiment, the user computing devices may also be connected directly to each other.
  • [0021]
    The network user patients 10 a, 10 b . . . 10 n may be associated with the program management organization 50. For example, if the program management organization 50 is affiliated with a particular hospital or healthcare group, one or more of the network user patients 10 a, 10 b . . . 10 n may be patients associated with, and/or may have been treated by, that particular hospital or healthcare group. In embodiments of the invention, as will be further described herein, the health care management system 60 includes components for identifying, recording information relating to, and providing rewards to network user patients 10 a, 10 b . . . 10 n.
  • [0022]
    Furthermore, because embodiments of this invention may be implemented as a community-based health care effort, the network user patients 10 a, 10 b . . . 10 n may have an affiliation with a locality. For example, the network user patients 10 a, 10 b . . . 10 n may be associated with a neighborhood, city, state, or region of the country. While this association will often be created by virtue of the residence of the network user patient, the association with a particular locality may be specifically designated by the network user patient. For example, a network user patient may want to retain an association with his or her hometown rather than his or her current residence.
  • [0023]
    The participating Network User Healthcare Professionals 20 a, 20 b . . . 20 n may be doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, nurse practitioners or other medically trained professionals that have chosen to participate in the health care networking system 40. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that varying levels of access based on relevant privacy laws (e.g., the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or “HIPAA”) or other preferences may be assigned to the different types of accounts. An account engine may be responsible for generating, maintaining and identifying user accounts and authorizations. In one embodiment of the invention, a specially trained “health coach” may also qualify as a participating network user healthcare professional. In one embodiment, in conjunction with their participation in the health care networking system 40, health coaches may visit network user patients 10 a, 10 b . . . 10 n in their homes or workplaces at regular intervals to record patient information or to provide other services described in more detail herein. Depending on the level of care required by the patient, this may entail daily, weekly, biweekly, etc. visits and/or follow-up visits by the health coach or other healthcare professional.
  • [0024]
    The network 30 is preferably the Internet, but may be or include other types of networks. The network 30 may include a wired or wireless local area network (LAN) and a wide area network (WAN), wireless personal area network (PAN) and other types of networks. When used in a LAN networking environment, computers may be connected to the LAN through a network interface or adapter. When used in a WAN networking environment, computers typically include a modem or other communication mechanism. Modems may be internal or external, and may be connected to the system bus via the user-input interface, or other appropriate mechanism. Computers may be connected over the Internet, an Intranet, Extranet, Ethernet, or any other system that provides communications. Some suitable communications protocols may include TCP/IP, UDP, or OSI for example. For wireless communications, communications protocols may include Bluetooth, Zigbee, IrDa or other suitable protocol. Furthermore, components of the system may communicate through a combination of wired or wireless paths.
  • [0025]
    The health care networking system 40 may include a known social networking system such as for example, Facebook, Myspace, FourSquare or Twitter, or may include a social networking system designed specifically for the health care networking system 40. The networking system may alternatively be a professional networking system such as, for example, LinkedIn. Using a social networking system such as Facebook, network user patients 10 a, 10 b . . . 10 n can join and create groups according to their unique needs or areas of interest. In one embodiment, this functionality may also be available to the participating Network User Healthcare Professionals 20 a, 20 b . . . 20 n. Users can choose fan pages according to their interests to connect and interact with other strangers. Users can also join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region to connect and interact. With a professional networking site, such as LinkedIn, registered users are able to maintain a list of contact details of people (or connections) they know and trust in the health care industry. Users may be able to invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection. This list of connections can then be used, for example, to locate other user patients with related health issues, to seek support during ongoing therapeutic treatments, or to obtain the contact information for a particular health coach or specialist. Another social networking system that may be implemented is Twitter, which enables its users to send and read text-based messages that are displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers who are known as followers. With Twitter, senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Although Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn are mentioned herein, similar or other networking systems may also or alternatively be implemented.
  • [0026]
    The program management organization 50 may be any organization capable of implementing the health care management system 60. In embodiments of the invention, the program management organization 50 may be or include a hospital or other healthcare organization. The health care management system 60 may be implemented using one or more computing devices as described herein and may include a records management engine (not pictured). The records management engine may be or include a computer application executed by one or more processors for performing the functions described herein.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 1 b is a block diagram illustrating an operating system environment in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. User devices 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n may be connected over a network 130 to a remote response system 120, which may further include or be associated with an interactive compliance system 140. Remote response system 120 may be comprised of modules including an identification module 120 a, screening module 120 b, monitoring module 120 c and output module 120 d. An incentive generation engine 150 may additionally be connected to the interactive compliance system 140 and further connected to other systems or modules through the network 130. An instant communication interface 160 may be operable to facilitate communication between the user device(s) 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n, and the remote response system 120. In one embodiment, the interactive compliance system 140 may further be connected over network 130 to a diagnostic inquiry module 170 as described in U.S. Patent App. No. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/220,953.
  • [0028]
    In this embodiment, the user device(s) 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n may be associated with an account which may further be associated with, for instance, a specific patient at treating institution (e.g., hospital, private practice office, other health care institution etc.). The user devices may further be associated with at least one health care professional, which may include physicians, nurses, health coaches and so on. These examples are not intended to be limiting. The user devices 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n may typically be associated with individuals connecting over the network 130 to the remote response system 120 through the use of computing devices such as desktop, laptop, portable computing devices, or mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet device. As described above, the user devices 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n may hold one or more accounts with a treating institution, such as a hospital, or other healthcare group.
  • [0029]
    The user device(s) 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n may connect to the remote response system 120 and/or interactive compliance system 140 over the network 130. The remote response system 120 is associated with the identification module 120 a, screening module 120 b, monitoring module 120 c and output module 120 d, and operates in conjunction with the interactive compliance system 140 that may itself be monitored by or otherwise operatively connected to the incentive generation engine 150. In operation, the user devices 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n may send a signal to trigger the remote response system 120 by, for example, transmitting data such as a particular patient's weight or blood pressure. The remote response system 120 receives the signal and may notify the interactive compliance system 140 of a change in status. The identification module 120 a may then identify the user patient with which the transmitted metric is associated. Those skilled in the art may appreciate that the patient may be identified in any number of ways, such as by name, social security number, assigned username and/or password (which may be designated by the user, or may be a randomly selected combination of numbers and/or letters), or any other identifier (i.e., biometric data). In another embodiment, the user inputting the information is identified by the identification module 120 a by data sent over the network, which may include identification data transmitted by the user device itself, or by an identifier input by the user. In such an embodiment, the user may be, for instance, the patient, a health care professional, health coach, or any other authorized user. The transmitted information is then input into screening module 120 b, which maintains a record that may be associated with a set of values (e.g., ranges, thresholds, etc.) specific to a patient's physical and/or mental health status (which may themselves, in turn, be based on a patient's sex, age, height, medical history, etc.). Monitoring module 120 c may then determine whether the patient is, for example, within a pre-defined range and/or under or above a pre-defined threshold. The output module 120 d may then send an alert to other user devices 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n. For example, if a patient demonstrates a blood pressure above a specific range associated with that patient, the output module 120 d may cause the remote response system 120, in conjunction with the interactive compliance system 140, to send a message to the user device of the appropriate medical professional, which may include the user patient's physician or health coach (i.e., “patient blood pressure exceeding maximum healthy values as of Oct. 1, 2011”). The output module 120 d may also connect to a central server (not pictured), which stores all values and data relating to a patient's physical and/or mental health.
  • [0030]
    In embodiments of the invention, the remote response system 120 may provide an interface accessible over the network 130 to display the interactive compliance system 140, and receive input from the user devices 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n. Alternatively, the user devices 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n may simply be provided with a phone number or email address associated with the remote response system 120 and may send information to that phone number or email address. In such an embodiment, user devices 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n could communicate with the remote response system 120 via, for example, a text messaging service. In another embodiment, the remote response system 120 may also provide access to a social networking system, as described in FIG. 1 a.
  • [0031]
    The instant communication interface 160 and diagnostic inquiry module 170 may be in communication with the remote response system 120 and interactive compliance system 140 via the network 130 to convey specific information to an authorized, requesting user device 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n. The instant communication interface 160 may be, for example, a chat box, web form, or other interactive communication format for a user patient associated with user device 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n to gain access to a live, trained medical professional. In one embodiment, the instant communication interface is a 24/7 telephone hotline, which may also be accessible from a user device (for instance, through the user device's telephone capabilities or through its network connections, i.e., via a Google Voice account). Moreover, the user patients associated with user devices 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n may further be associated with electronic medical records, recorded and stored by the diagnostic inquiry module 170, and transmitted over the network 130. In one embodiment, the information from the diagnostic inquiry module 170 may be used to inform the screening module 120 b as to the ideal thresholds and/or ranges for certain medical conditions (i.e., a patient with a history of or at risk for diabetes should not allow their weight to exceed a specific threshold, the specific value of which may be based in part on the patient's height and build; or, for instance, the typical blood pressure values for a 50-year-old female patient). Those skilled in the art will appreciate that this functionality removes any necessity of duplicate entry of patient information and enhances the efficiency of the system. In other embodiments of the invention, the ability of the diagnostic inquiry module to assist health care professionals in diagnosing a patient's condition, as described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/220,953, filed Aug. 30, 2011, may also be implemented as part of the system. In yet another embodiment, the diagnostic inquiry module 170 may include access to a database which accepts and records patient data (i.e., “patient's blood pressure is 128/82 on Aug. 1, 2011[;]” “Patient's blood pressure is 125/79 on Sep. 1, 2011”).
  • [0032]
    The diagnostic inquiry module 170 may also have access to a third party database which may store and apply applicable Government regulations (such as Medicare or Medicaid), hospital regulations, and insurance procedures. Accordingly, the diagnostic inquiry module may, in some embodiments, further be linked to the billing process in which physicians are typically required to participate. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that a traditional fee for service remuneration model may be implemented in conjunction with outcome data in a patient's electronic medical records. In another embodiment, necessary fees may reflect adjustable compensation that correlates with the acuity of a patient's illness including any co-morbidities. Moreover, in a variation of the fee for service model, the system may eliminate the undesirable consequences introduced by bundled payment options that appear to shift a fee for individual services, to a bundled payment that providers must then allocate amongst themselves in some kind of equitable apportionment.
  • [0033]
    The interactive compliance system 140 may be adapted to interface with the remote response system 120. Alternatively, the remote response system 120 may be integrated with the interactive compliance system 140. In embodiments of the invention, the remote response system 120 has the capability to receive commands from the user devices 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n and execute any queries or commands, and to access information from the interactive compliance system 140 automatically at the direction of the user device 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n (e.g., “User Patient No. 12345 is in compliance with all health-related values for the month of September 2011”). The remote response system 120 may further communicate with the record processing system 120 to enable or disable use of certain functionalities within the compliance system either system-wide, or for a particular subset of users.
  • [0034]
    The interactive compliance system 140 may further be operatively connected to an incentive generation engine 150, which monitors compliance of users associated with user devices 110 a, 110 b . . . 110 n, and may select certain users for rewards. The rewards may be based solely on merit (i.e., a prize for each user patient whose blood work shows cholesterol values within the user patient's pre-defined range), may introduce an element of random selection (i.e., of the user patients whose blood work shows cholesterol within a pre-defined range, one such user will be randomly selected for a prize), or may be awarded on any other basis deemed appropriate. In one embodiment, a health care professional may also be eligible for a reward if some percentage or number of the health care professional's patients are registered on the network. The health care professional may also be eligible for further rewards if the enrolled patients achieve target medical goals (e.g., the normalization of blood sugar after three months, weight loss of 15 pounds occurs, etc.).
  • [0035]
    In certain embodiments, the incentive generation engine 150 may also receive information from the monitoring module 120 c and output module 120 d.
  • [0036]
    FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a computing system 200 implementing a health care management engine 210 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Health care management engine 210 may be a processor. This configuration is merely exemplary and should not be construed as limiting. It is likely that multiple computing systems or devices will be utilized to implement the method and system in accordance with embodiments of the invention. The computing system 200 may further include a processor 216, a peripheral interface 220, a user input interface 230, a system bus 240 (not pictured), a system memory 250 (not pictured), a network interface 290, a connected 1, transceiver, adaptor, or other communication device 292, and a memory interface 294. The system bus 240 may be provided for coupling the various system components.
  • [0037]
    Computers typically include a variety of computer readable media that can form part of the system memory and be read by the processing unit. By way of example, and not limitation, computer readable media may comprise computer storage media and communication media. The system memory 250 may include computer storage media in the form of volatile and/or nonvolatile memory such as read only memory (ROM) 260 and random access memory (RAM) 270.
  • [0038]
    A basic input/output system (BIOS) 262, containing the basic routines that help to transfer information between elements, such as during start-up, is typically stored in ROM 260. RAM 270 typically contains data and/or program modules that are immediately accessible to and/or presently being operated on by processing unit. The data or program modules may include an operating system 274, health care management engine 210, other program modules 276, and program data 280. The operating system may be or include a variety of operating systems such as Microsoft Windows® operating system, the Unix operating system, the Linux operating system, the Xenix operating system, the IBM AIX™ operating system, the Hewlett Packard UX™ operating system, the Novell Netware™ operating system, the Sun Microsystems Solaris™ operating system, the OS/2™ operating system, the BeOS™ operating system, the Macintosh™® operating system, the Apache™ operating system, an OpenStep™ operating system or another operating system of platform.
  • [0039]
    At a minimum, the memory 250 includes at least one set of instructions that is either permanently or temporarily stored. The health care management engine 210 executes the instructions that are stored in order to process data. The set of instructions may include various instructions that perform a particular task or tasks, such as those shown in the appended flowcharts. Such a set of instructions for performing a particular task may be characterized as a program, software program, software, engine, module, component, mechanism, or tool. The health care management engine 210 may include a plurality of software processing modules stored in a memory as described above and executed on a processor in the manner described herein. The program modules may be in the form of any suitable programming language, which is converted to machine language or object code to allow the processor or processors to read the instructions. That is, written lines of programming code or source code, in a particular programming language, may be converted to machine language using a compiler, assembler, or interpreter. The machine language may be binary coded machine instructions specific to a particular computer. Any suitable programming language may be used in accordance with the various embodiments of the invention. Illustratively, the programming language used may include assembly language, Ada, APL, Basic, C, C++, COBOL, dBase, Forth, FORTRAN, Java, Modula-2, Pascal, Prolog, REXX, and/or JavaScript for example. In embodiments of the invention, Ab Initio™ software is implemented and structured query language (SQL) is implemented for coding.
  • [0040]
    Further, it is not necessary that a single type of instruction or programming language be utilized in conjunction with the operation of the system and method of the invention. Rather, any number of different programming languages may be utilized as is necessary or desirable.
  • [0041]
    Also, the instructions and/or data used in the practice of the invention may utilize any compression or encryption technique or algorithm, as may be desired. An encryption module might be used to encrypt data. Further, files or other data may be decrypted using a suitable decryption module.
  • [0042]
    The computing environment may also include other removable/nonremovable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media. For example, a hard disk drive may read or write to nonremovable, nonvolatile magnetic media. A magnetic disk drive may read from or writes to a removable, nonvolatile magnetic disk, and an optical disk drive may read from or write to a removable, nonvolatile optical disk such as a CD ROM or other optical media. Other removable/nonremovable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media that can be used in the exemplary operating environment include, but are not limited to, magnetic tape cassettes, flash memory cards, digital versatile disks, digital video tape, solid state RAM, solid state ROM, and the like. The storage media are typically connected to the system bus through a removable or non-removable memory interface.
  • [0043]
    The health care management engine 210 that executes commands and instructions may be a general purpose computer, but may utilize any of a wide variety of other technologies including a special purpose computer, a microcomputer, mini-computer, mainframe computer, programmed micro-processor, micro-controller, peripheral integrated circuit element, a CSIC (Customer Specific Integrated Circuit), ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), a logic circuit, a digital signal processor, a programmable logic device such as an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array), PLD (Programmable Logic Device), PLA (Programmable Logic Array), RFID processor, smart chip, or any other device or arrangement of devices that is capable of implementing the steps of the processes of the invention.
  • [0044]
    It should be appreciated that the processors and/or memories of the computer system need not be physically in the same location. Each of the processors and each of the memories used by the computer system may be in geographically distinct locations and be connected so as to communicate with each other in any suitable manner. Additionally, it is appreciated that each of the processor and/or memory may be composed of different physical pieces of equipment.
  • [0045]
    A user may enter commands and information into the computer through a user interface 230 that includes input devices such as a keyboard and pointing device, commonly referred to as a mouse, trackball or touch pad. Other input devices may include a microphone, joystick, game pad, satellite dish, scanner, voice recognition device, keyboard, touch screen, toggle switch, pushbutton, or the like. These and other input devices are often connected to the processing unit through a user input interface that is coupled to the system bus, but may be connected by other interface and bus structures, such as a parallel port, game port or a universal serial bus (USB).
  • [0046]
    One or more monitors or display devices may also be connected to the system bus via a peripheral interface 220. In addition to display devices, computers may also include other peripheral output devices, which may be connected through an output peripheral interface. The computers implementing the invention may operate in a networked environment using logical connections to one or more remote computers, the remote computers typically including many or all of the elements described above.
  • [0047]
    Various networks may be implemented in accordance with embodiments of the invention. These networks may include any of those described above with reference to FIGS. 1A-1B. Although many other internal components of the computer are not shown, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that such components and the interconnections are well known. Accordingly, additional details concerning the internal construction of the computer need not be disclosed in connection with the present invention.
  • [0048]
    Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention may be practiced with various computer system configurations, including hand-held wireless devices such as mobile phones or PDAs, tablet devices, multiprocessor systems, microprocessor-based or programmable consumer electronics, minicomputers, mainframe computers, and the like. The invention may also be practiced in distributed computing environments where tasks are performed by remote processing devices that are linked through a communications network. In a distributed computing environment, program modules may be located in both local and remote computer storage media including memory storage devices.
  • [0049]
    Although the aforementioned components are shown as discrete modules, each of the modules may alternatively be integrated with one another. If the modules are discrete, multiple modules may operate cooperatively as will be further explained below.
  • [0050]
    FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating an operating method for the health care management system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The method begins in S300 and at S310, users who wish to participate in the program register their user devices on a network. In various embodiments of the invention, there may be additional capabilities and/or requirements for a new user device that registers on the network. In embodiments of the invention, user devices may be specifically issued to a new user for the purpose of participating in the network. In other embodiments, the network may be compatible with a device that is already owned by the user. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that, as part of registering the user device on the network, some embodiments of the invention may allow for certain contact information to be programmed into the user device. For instance, after registering with the network, a user patient may instantly have access to the phone number and e-mail address of the user patient's newly assigned health coach, and/or, for example, the contact information to a 24/7 user hotline.
  • [0051]
    In S320, a health care professional may use patient information to record various data relating to the physical and/or mental health of the patient on the health care professional's user device, which is also connected to a network. These may include, but are not limited to, “healthy” ranges and/or thresholds for a patient's weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, exercise regimen, and so on. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the type and amount of data required for monitoring in this invention will vary from patient to patient. The health care professional may set these numbers after an initial physical examination of the patient, which may be performed in person (and which may also be performed in a number of different locations, including but not limited to, the physician's office, the patient's home, a mobile medical van, etc.).
  • [0052]
    In S330, the user patient monitors his or her own compliance with the values set by the health care professional. This may include entering information into an interface on the user device via the network. In some embodiments, the patient may log in using a user identification and password be prompted to enter responses at regularly set intervals, the prompts being specifically intended for that particular user (i.e., “Describe severity of ongoing knee pain in right knee[;]” “Describe strength of craving for alcohol/nicotine/drugs”). The patient may also be identified on the network by name, social security number, assigned patient identification number, or through any number of other identifiers (e.g., biometric data, password, etc.). Furthermore, passwords, security questions, and or other security measures may be implemented. In embodiments of the invention, a higher level of security for specific users or specific content would be available. In further embodiments, the prompts may solely request the user to enter numerical data (i.e., “Enter the number of minutes spent engaging in moderate to rigorous physical activity over the past three days[;]” “Enter weight as of 6 p.m. on Sep. 12, 2011”).
  • [0053]
    In S340, a medical professional may also input data at regular intervals (for instance, biweekly). This may be, for example, the result of an examination by the treating physician or nurse practitioner, or could also be the result of an in-home visit by the previously described health coach (or some combination thereof). In these and in other embodiments, a routine physical examination is regularly performed on the user to monitor compliance with the health regimen prescribed by the health care professional in S320. In S350, the health care professional's findings (i.e., the results of the physical examination and/or bloodwork, etc.) are recorded and stored. In one embodiment, these results are transmitted to, and stored as part of, the patient's electronic medical record. In S360, the input of the user and of the health care professional(s) is monitored to ensure that the health care professional's recommendations, as proffered in S320, have not been exceeded or otherwise not complied with. In S370, the system enters the compliant users into a drawing for rewards or other prizes at predetermined intervals (e.g., monthly). As long as a user is a participant in the program, the health data recorded by the health care professional is continuously revised and updated as necessary in accordance with the user's progress in S380. The process ends when the user withdraws from, or is asked to leave, the network in S390.
  • [0054]
    In embodiments of the invention, there may be numerous recorded goal health values, with compliance being measured very frequently. However, as the user progresses, fewer values may be required and compliance may need to be measured with decreasing frequency.
  • [0055]
    FIG. 4 is a flow chart illustrating a method of receiving and recording user input made at regular intervals, as described in S330 of FIG. 3, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The method begins as the user accesses his or her user account from a user device at SS410 via, for instance, the Internet (as described above).
  • [0056]
    Upon accessing the user account in SS410, the system may present to the user device, a user specific interface in SS412. This interface may display a welcome message, progress notes, updated goals, messaging history with the health coach or other health care professional or any other information that may be relevant to the user. The interface may also provide internal links, e.g., to a webpage where the user may enter updated data relating to the user's own physical and/or mental health (where the user is the patient), the physical and/or mental health of the user's patient (where the user is a healthcare professional), or to an internal social networking website. In the circumstance where the social network is not a pre-existing social network, i.e., where the user interface and networking components have been designed specifically for the network described, such as in FIGS. 1 a-1 b, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the social networking component may allow the user to perform at least one of the following: design a user profile, connect with other users, view the profiles of other users (if so authorized), join user “groups” which allow the user to connect with other users having shared characteristics and/or a messaging component.
  • [0057]
    The interface may also provide external links, for instance, to a user's Facebook account. In one embodiment, the system may link each user to at least one social networking page which allows the user to interface with either a health care professional (in one embodiment, the health coach), or with other similar users (i.e., a user patient who has been diagnosed with diabetes may be linked to a health coach who specializes in diabetes patients, and/or may be linked to message board where other user patients also have been diagnosed with similar or related conditions). In this embodiment, linking may be accomplished in conformity to social networking system norms. For example, in the Facebook social network system, the user may be become a “fan” of the organization. In the LinkedIn social networking system, the user patient and the program may become connections or the user patient may become a “member” of the program group. Furthermore, the linking components may also link the user to the health care management organization, such that the user becomes connected the health care management organization over the social networking system. Thus, once users have joined a group or become “fans” of the health care management organization, the user's activities may be made visible to the user's social networking friends or connections.
  • [0058]
    SS414, the user may enter the relevant data according to instructions that have been given to the user, in response to prompts or other instructions. This data is transmitted over the network in SS416, as described in, for instance, FIGS. 1 a-1 b. In embodiments of the invention, a user's information is open to any other social network users. In alternative embodiments, participants must specifically grant access to such information. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that a parallel process may be implemented when a health care professional, such as a health coach or physician, inputs patient data as well.
  • [0059]
    Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the network and system described herein may also be implemented in various embodiments, for instance, in conjunction with tertiary private hospitals and international medical service provider (which may include, for example, JCAH accredited, Caribbean medical centers staffed by Board certified US doctors which treat Medicaid patients). In addition, the network and system described herein may also be implemented with other public service functionalities, such as using mobile medical vans to visit underserved and indigent population groups to bring medical care to individuals who may otherwise not have access to such care. In another embodiment, the current network and system is implemented with a strong emphasis on nutrition for users (e.g., low-fat or vegetarian diets), and the previously mentioned mobile medical vans may also operate to sell healthy foods to underserved population groups.
  • [0060]
    While particular embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described in detail herein, it should be understood that various changes and modifications might be made to the invention without departing from the scope and intent of the invention.
  • [0061]
    From the foregoing it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all the ends and objects set forth above, together with other advantages, which are obvious and inherent to the system and method. It will be understood that certain features and sub-combinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and sub-combinations.
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Clasificaciones
Clasificación de EE.UU.705/3, 705/2
Clasificación internacionalG06Q50/24, G06Q50/22
Clasificación cooperativaG06Q50/22, G06Q50/24, G06Q50/01, G06Q10/06