StrikeWe all want simple solutions to living a healthy life.

It feels like I was born at just the right time for my work in health care. I completed my medical training just as social tools were percolating out to the masses. Motherhood and my practice of pediatrics auspiciously coincided with the bounty of information that technology has distributed, offered up, and shared unlike ever before.

I can search and learn about health wherever I am –  at the park or in the walls of my own clinic or home. For me, using my phone, Twitter, my blog, apps, Facebook, activity tracker, and patient online communities to provide health care, consume it, and engage in it is my new reality. It turns out, amidst all the clutter and stress of health care reform and our reduced time with our own doctors I can see clearly that intuitive ways of learning about science wed with thoughtful technology will let us care, cure, and prevent illness and injury like never before.

A survey published today finds that more that 3/4 of moms search online for symptoms. The majority of mothers in the US also look up information regarding their child’s development online, read about a medicine, or track their pregnancy with online tools. I’ve done, or do, all of those things. Don’t you?

I’ve just started a new job in the hospital overseeing a group in Digital Health. Our goal is to rapidly improve the way we serve children and their family’s unique needs in the hospital, clinical setting, and community. I want to help facilitate elegant communication between parents, patients, families, and their clinicians & surgeons when they are outside the hospital or clinic. Reason is: it seems to me that the luxury of our time is the one-to-many communication we have in our pockets. Over 60% of all American adults have a smartphone in their pocket and  crowd-sourcing happens at virtual water coolers (ie Facebook) every day. Over 40% of Americans log onto Facebook everyday to listen, lurk, snoop, learn, and vet ideas.

We are no longer limited in asking one question to one person at a time. This is true in every aspect of our life, including health care. Now, smart and thoughtful innovators ask the tribe for help in solving the world’s most challenging problems.

It turns out many of the best solutions are simplifications, fortunes of chance, or focused areas of light in a sea of complex circumstances. Think about the creation of the mouse for navigating a computer, the nasal bulb suction for clearing a newborn’s nose, finding life-preserving penicillin in a growing spot of mold, or the recent gestalt from a mechanic during his retrieval of a cork from the inside of a wine bottle that sparked the idea for revolutionizing how women deliver their babies, potentially avoiding C-sections during prolonged deliveries all over the world. All at low cost.

Sometimes it takes those on the outside to offer up the best solutions for those of us on the inside. Therefore another luxury of this time –how we’re connected –offers up fertile opportunity. Creative problem solving takes teams of invested members chiseling away at change and constructing new shape and form to our world. The great fortune for us all is that big solutions can sometimes stem from small, simple changes we make.

I was excited to be asked to judge for Target’s Simplicity Challenge. Earlier this fall, Target asked the public to create solutions to two complex health problems. The first: create simplicity around helping people make positive lifestyle and prevention choices. The second: create simplicity in helping people live well with a chronic condition. The two winners will get to unveil their solutions into the world with Target’s support and access. We all want to find ways to make health care simple and easier. The Simplicity Challenge is focused on discovering and celebrating great outside ideas to do just that.  Vote?

Surviving on earth, let alone thriving and living a long life, is no easy task. We need simple solutions to thrive amidst chronic health conditions and complex circumstances. Let’s continue to let the tribe bring in the solutions and open up the white space for more and more simple changes to take hold. Let’s get healthier faster.

I’m still noodling on the idea for a drive-thru urgent care and thinking about creating a new coast-to-coast network for expert moms. And there is a lot in the works for facilitating physician sharing online. Tell me some of your solutions?