Health 2.0 is hot

February 23, 2009

Health 2.0 is here. Thanks to a December 2008 grant award I get to explore this new enterprise with my team of consultants on behalf of an important medical center that could use some help reaching out to a high risk population.
Can the world of MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Second Life find a role in healthcare? A hospital in Los Angeles is going to find out. The St Vincent Medical Center Foundation contracted with yours truly to bid alongside 150 other proposals (we knew the pool would be big but not exactly how many) seeking funding under a unique RFP from United Healthgroup/Pacificare. Our proposal, submitted in the third of four cycles, was one of thirteen awards announced in Jan 2009.
The RFP set a priority on projects using technology to enhance healthcare. We found a great candidate with the Asian Pacific Liver Center (APLC) located at St Vincent Medical Center. The APLC is relatively new. Their mission is to educate Asian communities about the Hepatitis B virus epidemic among Asian Pacific people. We proposed to use technology to (1) establish a web-based report engine that will deliver timely reports on APLC outreach activity, and (2) create a social networking strategy to enhance APLC outreach efforts.
Report engines are nothing new. It may be surprising to those outside the business how infrequently these are found in healthcare settings. The ability to generate accurate and timely reports is a cornerstone for any evaluation strategy. If you cannot describe in detail who is being served when and how, then do not bother applying for sizeable funding to support ambitious projects that includes accountability.
The social networking strategy, our second deliverable, is the where the fun comes in. If you have a Facebook or MySpace page, or belong to one of the professional networking sites such as Linked In, then you are already “MAKING RELATIONSHIPS COUNT”. The step into healthcare is a short one from creating groups or networks of friends and colleagues who share common social interests to those who share an illness. Millions of people search every day for information about health and illness. With social networks it is possible to join a group where personal medical issues are openly discussed without the usual filters. Consider that communication pairs include MD→patient, MD→MD, patient→MD and patient→patient. Regulations influence the first three diads for the patient’s protection. However, the patient→patient conversation is voluntary opening the door for a cascade of health related information usually not available to providers and institutions.
Engaging patients to participate in their own treatment” holds new meaning!
This 24 month project holds much promise. One of the best aspects is we are working with physicians, medical staff and the foundation that received the funds who are all genuinely excited about the project. This project fits nicely with the HITECH funding in the new stimulus package. I will let you know what we come up with as we roll out our Health 2.0 strategy. In the meantime here are a few links where you can check out this new phenomenon.
Diabetes Daily was created in 2005 by a patient with Type 1 DM and her husband.
Chronic Pain Connection, a part of the HealthCentral network. Here are a few lines describing themselves from their root website.
The HealthCentral Network, Inc. has a collection of owned and operated Web sites and multimedia affiliate properties providing timely, in-depth, trusted medical information, personalized tools and resources, and connections to a vast community of leading experts and patients for people seeking to manage and improve their health.

Patients Like Me is purportedly the largest Health 2.0 site to date.

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