Saturday, December 02, 2006

Social Network and Healthcare Service: Trading Information

"Why should someone else hold your health information?" John Hagel III posited a long time ago that customers would eventually get to own the information that is relevant to them and their digital identity. Now John Batelle, search engine guru and the guy who literally wrote the book on Google, is saying that perhaps Google is going after heathcare information. He makes a point that we touched on in this blog before, i.e. why don't people think about using the power of social networks to find others that have "used that medicine for this condition"; had that treatment; had those symptoms during treatment etc. etc. "As the Internet increasingly helps link communities of people, we also think there is an opportunity to connect people with similar health interests, concerns and problems. Today, people too often don't know that others like them even exist, let alone how to find them. The industry should help there, too" Empowering the customer is always good, both economically and socially. Sunlight Disinfects, as they say. Yet, It strikes me that there is an inherent "assumption here" about Diagnosis versus monitoring. When considered in tandem with Malcom Gladwell's analysis of decision making in medical care, even the trained physician often does not make the "right number of right decisions" because they are unaware of the "odds" associated with each treatment strategy. These are big issues. If we could "gather our family medical and social histories" into a "Google-index" and it could be mined on a health algorithm, or you could have your family members "sign in" to a health information network, this would help with the diagnosis and risk elements. Treatment strategy outcomes could also be made available. People could share their experiences of making liminal decisions (should I go for that surgery given the benefit outcomes with THIS doctor, in THIS hospital?) Either way, your customers have digital information that enable you to give them better service, better products. So how are you thinking about enabling them to give it to you? Do you make it worth your customers while to trade information?

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