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Tech for Tomorrow

Doug Mow

Social-ized Health Care

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No, this is not a post about government subsidized health care. This is about how social media for health care can improve our patient experience.

Two sites were mentioned in a NY Times article this weekend, www.patientslikeme.com and www.curetogether.com. Both sites could be categorized as social media for health care. There may not be a stronger bond between individuals than health issues, and seeking support from the collective is a great advancement in improving the patient experience. These sites provide information, statistics, and community interaction on a huge variety of ailments.

Patientslikeme.com says "Patients helping patients live better every day." Curetogether.com says "Patients suffering with the daily pain of medical conditions now have a place to go share information and resources with other patients and researchers... CureTogether's service reflects an emerging social networking trend to help patients share and understand their data." A quote on curetogether.com says "CureTogether seriously changed my life."

Imagine that your health care provider offers access to communities like this as you progress through the diagnosis and treatment process. For example, the number one symptom on patientslikeme is fatigue. By clicking further, you can see the distribution of patients by severity level. Below that is a list of dozens of treatments ranked by percentage distribution. Each treatment offers a summary page of side effects, reasons used, and patient evaluations that are participant contributed feedback on specific remedies and cures. You are also presented with very specific information relative to the particular treatment for that symptom.

Sites like these are presenting context-specific information to patients and customers throughout an engagement process. They present statistics and outcomes to support decision making at an individual level. These sites give us the ability to be active participants in our own health care, not passive in a closed system where decisions are made about our care between doctors and the health care system.

When health care processes can provide mashups and doorways into communities like this, health care payers and providers provide better customer service and a better experience. Once again, IT is the catalyst if it can provide support for social interaction, efficient process management, context specific content presentation, and business intelligence combined into one seamless experience. Can your IT organization provide a roadmap to capabilities like this? Is IT prepared to be that change agent and catalyst?

What about the rest of the organization? Is the business prepared to leverage technology to develop new business models? In many situations, IT is ahead of the curve. Progressive organizations are providing opportunities to offer new products, services and client/patient interfaces. But, can the business side think ahead to new and innovative ways to deploy the technology? If the two are not acting together, chances are high that the outcome will be suboptimal.

This example highlights real enterprise 2.0 in action. Are today's enterprises able to design and deploy sites like these or are they focused on maintaining the complex IT estate that keeps the organization running? Or, will it take a new generation of unburdened start ups to create a new experience?

Doug Mow blogs from a business executive's perspective about IT trends, tech news and life in the trenches of an Enterprise 2.0 transformation.

Doug Mow

#CMO of Courion Corporation responsible for all branding, communications, messaging, online and offline marketing. Courion is the leading provider of access management tools that provide maximum access to corporate IT assets with minimal risk.

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