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Health 2.0’s Social Networks Get Down to Business!
By Deborah Kohn
Forrester predicts that by 2013, social networking will account for nearly half of the $4.6B market it forecasts for all Web 2.0 products (or, as we in healthcare refer to these products, Health 2.0).
Web 2.0 / Health 2.0 products are the suite of online technologies and applications (e.g., blogs, wikis, Really Simple Syndication [RSS], content communities, mashups, podcasts – in addition to social networks) that are used to share information via text, images, audio, video in a participative, communicative environment. They are based on users’ opinions, expertise, insights, interests, or work activities.
Social networks (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) can be differentiated from the other Web 2.0 / Health 2.0 products because they give users the ability to create individual profiles that foster interaction among many people (“many-to-many” as opposed to “one-to-many”). First made available on the consumer-oriented MySpace site, in general, Web 2.0’s social networks finally are finding a solid niche in the business world, and, in particular, in healthcare. The reasons are that social networks can assist information workers in collaborating and accomplishing work more quickly, productively, and cost-effectively than current collaboration tools.
Information workers spend an inordinate amount of each day collaborating in e-mail. Where e-mail was once considered a “messaging system” — the electronic equivalent of the Post-it note, replacing paper office memos and telephone messages — eMail evolved into a “communication system”, essential for a healthcare organization’s business processes. While soliciting and sharing information via e-mail is effective, relying on an e-mail system for collaboration and compliance is risky. Version tracking becomes nearly impossible, and visibility is limited to those on the “To:” and “cc:” lines. If a worker is hoping to find and re-purpose an e-mail or its content at a future date, it’s not practical. Same for using file shares.
However, Twitter, for example, gives information workers the unprecedented ability to tap into customer-driven feedback loops and turn them into message amplifiers, focus groups, and even goodwill ambassadors! In addition, all workers inside the organization, not just selected groups, can create, edit, and distribute ever-increasing volumes of ad hoc and informal information. Even with limiting posts to 140 characters, many-to-many can still efficiently link to educational podcasts, budget decisions, and quality and safety videos as well as search for the information.
If healthcare organizations have a receptive culture, a clear business strategy, and a clear technology strategy that allow for social networks to be appropriately integrated into established healthcare business processes, I predict that, like e-mail, social networks will become integral to a healthcare organization’s activities and will achieve a level of legitimacy and value that will rate them a secure spot. In other words, instead of sending one-to-many e-mails for certain collaborative activities, the ability to post announcements many-to-many using social networks will become the next generation of e-mail and file shares.
 Owyang, JK; The Future of the Social Web, April 27, 2009
Deborah Kohn is the principal of Dak Systems Consulting of San Mateo, CA.
Survival of the Fittest
By Mark Steele, MD and Jack Callahan
Any highly adaptive species will thrive on its evolutionary journey; any species that is not responsive to its environment will inevitably come to extinction. The EMR and its more adaptive descendent, the hybrid EMR, offer a clear example of this process of natural selection in the digital world.
As the name implies, the hybrid EMR represents a synthesis — in this case, between the traditional EMR and how doctors actually practice medicine in reality. The hybrid EMR is a highly flexible adaptation that has split off from its original species and continued to evolve, while its ancestor, the traditional EMR, still struggles to survive. The incontrovertible success of the hybrid EMR in the marketplace is a perfect illustration of the survival of the fittest.
When the EMR first emerged from the primordial swamp of legacy code, it was poorly adapted to the healthcare IT environment. Its genetic inheritance of hard-to-use, rigid data entry syntax and non-intuitive navigation kept it from thriving, particularly with demanding, high-performance practices. But because it had a few attractive features, along with some colorful-looking plumage and no natural competitors, it did gain a toehold in the market. Still, no matter how many tried to domesticate the primordial EMR, few succeeded.
Later generations of the EMR species made clear the need to regulate its unstable genetics. CCHIT engineering was engaged, with government funding, to control the breed. Yet despite Herculean efforts and even crossbreeding with the PM species to deliver a combined, integrated entity with a single DNA set, maladaptation continued. High-performance practitioners and specialists, who demand a stable, productive, usable species of EMR, were not consulted, and they were not convinced. They did without, waiting for the species to evolve still further.
Finally, it did. The hybrid EMR emerged, with new genetics and usability, and met with huge acceptance and adoption.
This meant that the traditional EMR species had reason to fear for its survival. Its only hope of getting off the endangered species list was a cataclysmic event that might give it a chance to catch up to its competitor. Eventually, the dire state of healthcare led to unprecedented funds being allocated to encourage medical practices to adopt traditional EMRs. This was supposed to benefit the practices, but since EMR genetics remained the same, maladaptation continued, endangering the very practices that adopted them.
The beginning of the end of the traditional EMR species is at hand and the government health IT stimulus program will hasten the demise of the woolly EMR mammoths. As physicians realize that complying with government EMR "meaningful use" protocols requires significant productivity losses, the traditional EMR will be relegated to a minor role for low volume and non-fee-for-service practitioners … or even to extinction.
Natural selection favors species that can evolve and adapt to the demands of a changing environment. Such is the hybrid EMR. Its strength is a fundamentally simple, strong, and very nimble DNA architecture that can accommodate the changing requirements of its users. Unlike traditional EMR systems, which force the user to conform to their structure and syntax, the hybrid EMR thrives because it conforms to the unique needs and productivity requirements of the healthcare provider, even the high-performance healthcare provider. The hybrid EMR is the highest state of EMR evolution; its survival is assured.
The Green Provision to the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009?
By The Alchemist
In the year 2010, the global economy is on the brink of absolute collapse with overcrowding in the cities, rampant unemployment, and a mandated rationing of healthcare resources because of the increased demand and the sudden swollen health insurance membership. Hospital palaces from around the world are converted to efficient and effective government-run bureaucratic clinics for the delivery of appropriate metered care according to the QARY paradigm.
The United States of North America has implemented a novel solution to scarce healthcare resources by augmentation of the Patient Self Determination Act 1991 (PSDA) within the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. The purpose of PSDA is to relieve the burden on the healthcare delivery system by introducing a process that might produce the desired “green” effect by reducing the supply impact to our environment of care.
PSDA is re-crafted and claimed successful within the green movement for scarce resources and has become known as the Solyent Green Movement where tired citizens can “go home” to their favorite government clinic for care. Solyent Green is for people!