Health and social networks

Hello my darlins’ I’m working hard at the moment on a couple of projects including this month’s two courses – citizen journalism and a social networks marketing course – at the Uni of Sydney. Come sign up! Anyway, on with the show! Phil Windley’s Technometria had this:

Online Communities and Health Care

Last week I put up a show from the Zend PHP conference that featured Adam Bosworth talking about “content” and the fact that it’s still King. Adam is thought provoking and entertaining. This talk is no different.

Interestingly, Adam talks about content in the context of community (no big surprise there) and spends a great deal of time talking about the health care industry. Adam claims that there’s a growing need for tools that allow patients to add value to health-care related communities by sharing information and experiences. These tools could lead to better predictors of health conditions, earlier diagnosis, and more successful treatments. And we’d save a lot of money too. What’s not to like?

I posted up a response, this one …

Hmm nothing new here really. One of the first really large, really successful (non geek) communities was Jenny Preece wrote about it in detail in her book Online Communities – Designing Useability, Supporting Sociability (2000) . Peer2Peer support by patients and relatives has been a fundamental driver in pharmaceutical companies underwriting large online health communities. I’m not negating the idea – it’s great – but it’s been happening for a few years now. Citizen Doctors if you need a buzzword. 😛

… cos the citizen doctor comment came from some thoughts I posted at The Age Citizen Journalism Sucks blog:

Its short sighted to think that collaborative communities will only affect traditional and ‘new’ media. It will in fact affect many areas – every sector that has passionate, committed people willing to do research to solve a small (or large) problem. And share their answers. For free.

Citizen doctor and/or researcher? Hmmm lots of cases, watch the movie Lorenzo’s Oil for a well known one. ‘Wiki’ it for a quick summary. Will every citizen be able to cure major diseases simply through passion and research? No. But don’t think it doesn’t happen. Pharmaceutical companies are underwriting large forums to provide patients with peer2peer support – while quietly plugging their drugs.

Citizen lawyers (Creative Commons), citizen venture capitalists and peer2peer banks (Zopa).. well the list goes on. ‘Citizen’ anything has long been with us – as long as there are people with an urgent and focussed need to do something, but now we have the means to collaborate and as me dear ol’ ma used to say “two heads are better than one, so BOTH of you do the washing up!” 🙂

As usual with online revolutions – it hits the incumbent media first and then flows on to other sectors. Think Amazon vs bookstores. Yessir, the underlying technology and infrastructure of the internet is coming of age, and will affect ALL sectors. Don’t kid yourself otherwise.

This is not a new media disruptive technology. Its an every sector, the whole darn world disruption.
But back to health. I checked out Adam Bosworth link. Turns out that:

Adam Bosworth is a vice president of engineering at Google, Inc. He has been associated with Google Health, a rumored health care portal which Google has been reported to be working on in cooperation with WebMD and Intuit.

The podcast is 45 minutes or so but here’s their summary.

Ten years ago, due to the nature of software development, creating an application program interface (API) was usually the first step. Developers, hoping to attract a user base, would then create applications with as many features as possible. Once the users showed up, a community might develop around the application. Today however, Adam Bosworth, a vice president of engineering at Google, argues that the game has changed, and that a successful application will likely develop around an existing community. He adds that development projects which are built on the “if you build it, they will come” philosophy are likely to become disappointments.

Bosworth then looks ahead ten years and attempts to describe what future enterprise development projects may look like. He speculates that the ability of a community to interact within an application may eventually outweigh the content provided by the application itself. Bosworth then calls special attention to the health care industry. As the population ages and health care costs continue to soar, Bosworth sees tremendous opportunity for developers to embrace the health care community and to build useful tools which cater to clusters of patients and doctors. “Health is the new enterprise,” Bosworth claims, and there’s a growing need for tools that allow members to add value to their community by sharing information and experiences related to their health; tools that can lead to better predictors of health conditions, earlier diagnosis, and more successful treatments.

Final note: I was flicking through the channels just now (as-you-do) and Today Tonight had a segment on SMS social networking tool for sexual health for youth. Condoms broken? Missed a Pill? Just text a question and get the answer on your mobile phone. Cool.

Annoying, they have locked up their text so I can’t copy and paste the About Info here. No clue why companies do that, don’t they know that RSS and distributed information thru blogs is THE web 2.0 feature? They should be paying me to post their stuffz on my blog. Tsk Tsk.

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