Friday, May 30, 2008

Health 2.0 - A New Perspective (for me)

Ingenix has put a new face to the definition of Health 2.0. For months I have been struggling with the concept of Health 2.0 and what it means to me.

Our practice has built our entire IT infrastructure around the concept of improving the velocity at which information can be shared. In fact, we reengineered our digital nervous system after reading Bill Gates’ book “Business @ the Speed of Thought”. Despite my “tech-saavyness” I have struggled with the impact of Web 2.0 on health care and the concept of Health 2.0. Last night I found clarity on the subject after reading a post by Scott Shreeve at Crossover Health Care. Scott recently took some time to re-read the speech given at the Health 2.0 conference by CEO Andy Slavitt of Ingenix and his belief that “industries leading methodologies for measuring cost, severity, and quality of care should be open source in the public domain”.

Ingenix is a massive software vendor that operates mostly in enterprise level companies (insurance, health groups, etc..) so giving away methodologies (or better yet code) is a big deal. Scott gives a detailed account of the speech (as well as some insight into its possible motivation vis-à-vis the Attorney General in New York) in his post. What resonated with me was this line;

“We think that data from every EMR, claims system and PBM, flow freely, safely, and securely with built in standard analytics to meet all these needs.”

I don’t believe that Web 2.0, that is the socialization of the internet, is about to bring on a health care revolution. I don’t believe that EMR, Facebook doctors, the medical blogosphere, Google Health and other Web 2.0 applications are individually the revolution in health care. Rather, they are small changes in a bigger picture.

Until now your health care information was locked in multiple silos. The doctors’, dentists’ or physiotherapists’ office. The hospital. The insurance company. That one sentence made me realize that it is not the socialization of the internet that is impacting health care but the ability to instantly share individual records across a wide spectrum. My definition of Health 2.0 was previously too narrow. I focused on the potential for greater reach of health care providers instead of the greater mobility of data. The text and images of your medical data can now be merged with tags for timelines, locations and outcomes.

I now see those Web 2.0 applications as the evolution of technology that allows us to rapidly (and safely) share individual proprietary database information across a common framework. The result will be unprecedented collaboration on health care. It sounds like Ingenix is hoping to take a leading role in facilitating that collaboration. I suspect that Google is planning to do the same.

With those thought I wanted to post my own definition of Health 2.0:

“Health 2.0 is the rapid exchange of individual health information between stakeholders to improve health care experiences and outcomes.” - Ian Furst

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