The Impact of Social Business on Healthcare
Douglas Heintzman 060000Q98X firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  social-business healthcare
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As the Social Business era progresses it will increasingly be targeted at specific industry requirements. One of the most interesting industries that will be impacted, which has in turn an impact on pretty much everyone, is healthcare
Healthcare is a very large and growing cost to society. It is straining both public and personal purses in every country in the world. The economic impact of this cost center will increase in most countries because of the development of advanced treatments, therapies and diagnostic systems as well as because of increased use by an aging population.
Healthcare is a very special industry because it is personal and emotional; because health is a form of public infrastructure that supports labor stability, mobility, and productivity and defends against the ruinous societal and economic impact of pandemics; because it is highly dynamic with the continual introduction of new drugs, new treatments and protocols, and new technology. It also doesn't behave with the same demand and supply market behavior as most industries due to the inelasticity of demand.
For all of these reasons healthcare has been an intense focus for not only governments, company benefit programs and political discord, it has been the subject of intense investment and research by the IT industry.
These investments are trying to find new ways of using information technology to drive more cost effectiveness and more productivity. Certainly records automation is already delivering substantial benefits such as improved accuracy, fraud reduction, administrative efficiency. Billing has been well automated. Certainly the web, and increasingly rich consumer web based interactions, is allowing consumers to be better informed and, as a consequence, make better quality decisions about their own healthcare. Scheduling and consultation have also been impacted by information technology.
There are a number of emerging technologies that have enormous potential for really moving the needle. Modeling of molecular or drug interaction enabled by super computing will likely have a dramatic impact on pharmaceutical development. The advent of “evidence based medicine” facilitated by “Deep Q&A” engines like IBM's Watson will significantly improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis. Deep Analytics will help give warning of disease outbreaks and help inform public policy formation, and medical protocols. Simulation technology will allow surgeons to prototype operations and optimize their strategies.
I think that I first encountered the word “triage” while watching M*A*S*H many years ago. It is of course, a staple of medical dramas on TV and in the movies. When you are trying to figure out how to most efficiently deploy a finite amount of resource against a large and urgent need, to achieve an optimal result... you have to triage. That is to say, figure out how best to prioritize your efforts. In many ways this describes the overarching challenge that healthcare is up against. How can it prioritize the finite resources it has to deliver the best result?
It turns out that just as was the case on M*A*S*H, people are the key. Social Business has the potential to transform the healthcare industry. Healthcare is fundamentally an intellectual property industry. It embraces continuous ideation. It uses trial and refinement. It involves a lot of people and a lot of ideas making a lot of very critical decisions. It is inherently social.
How does Social Business impact Healthcare specifically?
It engages the social network effect. It allows consumers of healthcare to share opinions, recommendations, experiences, and consolation. It allows healthcare practitioners to discover expertise, share best practices and knowledge and coordinate their activities. It allows health care administrators and public policy agencies to divine sentiment and discover patterns. It allows hospitals to more efficiently manage their workforce,better coordinate their teams and deliver highly targeted education.
Social Learning: It allows great ideas, and expertise to be shared efficiently and globally.
For example: Boston Children's Hospital. They are using Social Business technology to redefine education for doctors, nurses and other caregivers. Their solution connects to doctors and caregivers in remote areas of the world to provide expert training on how to treat children with life-threatening illnesses. They have created an interactive, virtual, education solution that replaces old apprenticeship models. This gives them much more effective and efficient reach with a much broader impact on the health of many more children. Putting the right information in the hands of the right people at the right time has had a significant effect on reducing infant mortality.
Resource coordination and prioritization: Capturing, linking and analyzing social content.
For example:The Chilean Red Cross is exploiting Social Business using a cloud-based disaster and resource management solution, “enabling employees and volunteers to coordinate and synchronize relief efforts more efficiently and respond to crises faster, exchange information across geographies using any type of device, and help mobilize rescue specialists and required emergency aid items swiftly.”
Innovation: Captures and refines ideas
For example: Presbyterian Westside Healthcare is driving innovation through Social Business. I am looking forward to hearing Douglas Johnson, Director of Innovation is delivering a presentation tilted “Presbyterian Healthcare Services Puts Innovation into Social Gear at the Connect 2012 Conference in mid January 16th and 17th.
Insight: Making better quality decisions based on better quality information
For Example: All of the case reports and comments that you see doctors write on those ubiquitous charts at the end of a hospital bed or dictate into a digital recorder are valuable data points. Not only for your case but for all the other cases that may benefit from the description of the diagnosis, treatment and outcome of your case. Other doctors and nurses, and radiologists etc. may add to comment on, and refer to that content. A lot of this content is observational. It is unstructured all mostly social. It is kind of like a specialized blog entry. Content that benefits not just the author but also others and almost always involves many authors who are collaborating. All of this material is rich fodder for deep analytic engines. You may have read about the work that IBM and Wellpoint are doing to harness the power of Watson (of Jeopardy fame) to improve diagnosis.
There are lots of other examples. The bottom line is that social business in healthcare, as in other industries, can capture and efficiently focus the collective and distributed creativity of a distributed group of people, generate insight through pattern analysis, and distribute information and expertise to people who need it. With the extraordinary pressures that health care providers are under these days it shouldn't be surprising that more and more of them are developing explicit social business strategies.