Mind to Market

Friday, November 21, 2008

Health 2.0

Yesterday’s CCTSI Informatics Seminar was presented by Dr. Diane Skiba on Health 2.0 Tools; how the ‘wisdom of crowds’ from Web environments is influencing health care and academia. Yes, despite the resistance, Web 2.0 is penetrating health care. Dr. Skiba’s message is that, with healthcare becoming more consumer driven, Web 2.0 technologies will continue to make inroads with or without full clinical acceptance. It is therefore incumbent upon healthcare providers to adopt the technologies so that the information and knowledge requirements of patients and their families can be served more effectively.

Personal Health Records (PHR) such as Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault, online patient communities such as PatientsLikeMe and health oriented Web sites such as WebMD and Revolution Health are growing rapidly, Americans are relying more on online sources for healthcare information than their physicians. The need and value of this resource is well established, it’s now a question of how the medical community intends to work with it.

Dr. Skiba also pointed out the need to meet the needs of the future nursing staff members most of whom are now in school and are submersed in social networking and online collaboration tools. These current students have developed learning and work processes are more aligned with Web 2.0 technologies than traditional methods. How will these future nurses be recruited and integrated into medical institutions unless the institutions adopt new the information technologies?

Finally, the amount of information being accumulated in PHRs, online patient communities, health wikis and blogs is increasing at an exponential rate and will continue for the foreseeable future. How can this knowledge be effectively used by clinicians to the benefit of future patients? In this respect, online health information is little different than the vast amounts of information being accumulated in other sectors. But if the potential exists for lifesaving therapies to lie hidden in the health data sources it makes these sources much more valuable.

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