Why private social networking for patients, doctors and caregivers will revolutionize the way physicians, healthcare providers and patients interact and what are the 3 key success factors to make it happen.
Imagine updating your medical record was as simple as updating your status on Facebook, only totally private and secure? This is private social networking for patients and doctors.
Let’s go back almost 30 years and start with a quiz question.
Who remembers X.400 – the message switching protocol?
First published in 1984, X.400 is a protocol for Message Handling Systems (MHS) — more commonly known as “email”.
X.400 was supported in Microsoft Exchange until 2006 and has been supplanted by SMTP (the simple message transport protocol).
Today we have peer-to-peer protocols for texting and private messaging, SMTP for email messaging and RESTful services over HTTP for application-to-application communications and – the largest social network application in the world (Facebook) serving close to a billion people.
No need for third-party service providers. Just sign up. Publish an API – if it serves a need, people will use it. When we send an email today, or subscribe to an RSS feed we don’t need to buy a service from AT&T. We just do it.
The complexity and third-party dependencies of X.400 was it’s downfall.
Why openness, simplicity and vendor-neutral standards are important
The openness, simplicity and vendor-neutral standards process of the IETF resulted in SMTP becoming the backbone of Internet email today.
Fast forward to 2012 and folks are suggesting third-party centralized message switching X.400 style as a solution for health information exchange.
The white paper from Athena Health “Making Care Coordination Work: A Sustainable Model to Benefit the Whole Community ” describes patient data exchange using a third-party cloud service provider as opposed to centralized public sector-owned HIE systems.
Athena Health touts the advantage of vendors competing to provide better data interchange services instead of relying on on government programs which could dissolve with the next administration.
Since there is no public HIE that can achieve … a sustainable model that is open to all participants, vendors should equip providers with the means to use their electronic health record solutions to securely exchange patient data such as medical records, orders, insurance information, diagnoses, and test and treatment results. This is a simpler and more effective approach than a public system, because it relies on the efforts of vendors who are motivated to succeed in the market rather than relying on government funding, which is highly uncertain in the future.
athenahealth envisions a model for a sustainable system in which one provider can send a highly formatted, customized order to another provider through a third party service provider, and the receiving provider would pay the third-party provider, on a transaction basis, for the transmission and value inherent in an order with proper formatting and the right patient information.
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. George Santayana
The 3 key success factors to Making Care Coordination Work
Healthcare IT vendors and physicians must adopt a common language
It doesn’t really matter if health IT vendors are “motivated to succeed in the market and provide novel transaction services for transmission of data”.
It is far more important to help doctors reduce stress, improve decision making processes and help their patients be well.
There is a fundamental divide between the needs of physicians and the needs of Health IT vendors:
Health IT is about executing predictable business processes and maximizing product and services revenue.
Medicine is about handling the unexpected and maximizing better health outcomes.
In order to bridge this gap, healthcare IT vendors and physicians must adopt a common language – a language of patient-centric risk/benefit analysis.
By assessing application process tasks and product functionality in terms of what is good or bad for the patient and what is good or bad for the physician as opposed to what software is convenient to develop or what marketing collateral is nice to write or what US government initiative we can satisfy, we need to deliver software implementations that fit the needs of physicians and their patients.
In a free market – outstanding software that is developed to the customer (patient and physician needs will succeed – with or without Meaningful use and government subsidies.
Patient data interchange must be based on vendor-neutral standards
The reference model we propose adopting, is the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), where experts from industry and academia, put their egos aside, and work together without compensation, to develop, publish requests for comment and implement vendor-neutral standards.
Patient data interchange is best served with peer-to-peer protocols
Private social networking for patients and doctors enables physicians, patients and caregivers to interact directly, share data and exchange referrals. This is a peer-to-peer interaction that doesn’t require registration and contracts with third-parties. Since the private social network for patients and doctors is built on vendor-neutral standards, anyone can join the private social network for patients and doctors or be invited) and exchange transacations with other healthcare providers or patients.
Private social networks for healthcare are democratic – they are equally accessible for nurses, physiotherapists, private practioners in small town in Virginia, a large hospital in Mumbai and a neurology specialist in Israel.
Private social networking for doctors and patients services include:
- Enable a specialist to receive basic medical information from the primary care doctor
- Enable the primary care doctor to receive a report back from a specialist
- Make patient test results/medical records available at the time of an appointment
- Enable doctors to provide important medical information to other doctors or nurses that the patient think s should have it
- Notify patients about test results
- Enable patients to provide their physician/clinical care team with their personal experiences regarding the treatment plan
In summary – taking a page out of Facebook – and the IETF – imagine communicating medical information in a private social network for doctors and patients that was simple as updating your status in Facebook.
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