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When Ideas Mate: Plotting the Convergence of Social, Cloud and Mobile in the Healthcare Space

There is a famous TED video by author Matt Ridley called “When Ideas Have Sex.” Paraphrased, the line that I love goes, “When ideas are having sex, innovation happens.”

While these three fast-paced technologies (social, cloud and mobile) are themselves children of many years of progress, they are here to stay, evolve and generate much needed changes in our healthcare system.

Across all continents, we are increasingly living in a hyper-connected world where we get our news on Twitter and store our files in the cloud. I foresee a near future where we buy our healthcare (at least Level 1 Triage) like we buy iTunes songs on our mobile devices via Apple iCare. This is the era of the perfect storm, with healthcare consumers driving the change and adopting these everyday, taken-for-granted technologies into the archaic system we have now.

I recently heard the comment, “There are more pilots in the NHS, then there are in British Airways.” For the healthcare entrepreneurs and change agents, this is a familiar zone. Indeed, this industry is dealing with old reimbursement systems and aging technology, but also patient health information. So, caution is understandably applied.

With the latest foray into the healthcare market, SalesForce is bringing the cloud to this industry fast and furious with the recent announcement of their partnership with Philips and Radboud University Hospital, as well as a different initiative for the life sciences sector with Accenture. With Apple Healthkit and the partnerships Apple has built to date, as well as quiet conversations around Facebook Health (whatever this will mean) the mobile and social initiatives in the industry are finally beginning to make an impact for the masses (still to be defined and measured, of course).

While the above are just a few examples of the headway we have made as an industry, in general, healthcare has been slow to drive towards the eye of this storm, which is the intersection of mobile, social and cloud. This is where innovation is desperately trying to surface.

Here is why we need an offspring of these technologies to be born:

  1. Healthcare Consumers: In control of the money and the data
    I recently signed up for DataCoup, allowing me control of where my social and bank data gets sold to. On top of it all, I can make money selling my own information. I didn’t do it for the 0.79 cents that I got on my first purchase, but for a proof-point that I as an individual can actually profit from my own data, and secondly, control who buys it.

Imagine this in healthcare! Today, it is still difficult to get my records extracted from a healthcare institution, but with the advent of consumer tools like Google Fit, Apple Healthkit and even Microsoft HealthVault (hopefully updated soon) this becomes a non-issue with immediate data portability. Consumer-generated health data will overtake traditional medical records very quickly.

  1. Making things easy for the workforce
    Let’s face it: the face of the enterprises is changing rapidly as well. Whether you are a contract nurse, or a visiting practitioner or a chief medical officer, you are now spoiled with the everyday use of cloud, mobile and social. The expectation of anytime, anywhere, secure access is here to stay—let the health caregiver focus on the patient/consumer and not on the keyboard.
  2. You can not be anti-social anymore
    Well, of course you can if you choose to! But even anti-social people have social networks. Whether you are social or anti-social (in a form of private groups), every consumer is leveraging social media and other online resources to share their experiences, book online appointments, and order prescription drugs — on the go! Our healthcare systems and regulatory frameworks are falling behind.

Everyone loves innovation, but we often fear change, and yet the consumer-facing perfect storm has swooped in with tremendous speed. It has brought easy access and on demand information, put knowledge at our fingertips and at lower costs, but most importantly, it democratized numerous industries, with healthcare following the tail winds.

Eugene Borukhovich is an international expert on healthcare information technology innovation. He is the founder and organizer of Health 2.0 NYC and Health 2.0 Amsterdam and is a leading advocate in healthcare consumer issues and open health data. He currently serves as VP Healthcare, European Markets at SoftServe, Inc., and a frequent contributor to the SoftServe United blog. He can be followed on Twitter at @HealthEugene.


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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder and partner at Cognitio Corp and publsher of CTOvision.com