I enjoyed Carleen Hawn’s Take Two Aspirin And Tweet Me In The Morning: How Twitter, Facebook, And Other Social Media Are Reshaping Health Care. Not the typical “wall of evidence” from Health Affairs, but numerous well-chosen and credible anecdotes. These make a credible case for at least two advantages for e-enabled healthcare
- social network software as prolonged, nearly continuous “group therapy” for patients with chronic-diseases that are mitigated by maintaining good choices in daily life
- scenarios in which patients benefit from more spontaneous or ad hoc connections to on-call physicians chosen by their availability rather than their prior continuity with the patient. (Two examples described are Hello Health.com and the contract between American Well and the Hawaii Medical Service Association for “on-line house calls.”)
The article did not adopt the “ohmigod, this changes everything” attitude of most of what is written about Health 2.0, which is why I found it more tolerable and less, well, stupid.
Still, I wish that Hawn had done a better job of positioning these anecdotes against the complex matrix of healthcare delivery. The lead anecdote was about an executive that chose Hello Health’s fixed fees per visit in lieu of health insurance. Should she have mentioned that he apparently gave up insurance for major health events in the bargain? Does the Hello Health approach discourage health screening?
Although she mentioned standards of care for e-visits, she basically treated the issue as a licensure problem and a need for “an entirely new regulatory structure.” To its credit American Well addresses the issue forthrightly on its Web site and points the surfer to efforts that are attempting to resolve the issue of standards of care for eVisits within a time frame that the company needs if it is to succeed.
On thr plus side, Hawn did pick examples where Health 2.0 was extending the role of caregivers in fairly well-understood healthcare processes. ATMs didn’t fundamentally change banking, although it did cherrypick high-volume, simple transactions and greatly improve the user experience for them. Orbitz and the like allowed consumers access to knowledge that was previously locked up in the travel agent’s computers, and made simple reservations self-service. But try booking an eight-day, five-country trip that way. Business travel agents use self-booking like banks use the ATM, to handle the simple transactions 24 hours a day without waiting to talk to a travel agent. But they continue to offer the other values they have always offered, complex travel arrangements, the creation of special value by special deals with travel suppliers and enforcement of company travel policies.
Some healthcare transactions are high-volume, relatively simple and can be handled by some consumers with normal intelligence and increased access to knowledge and information on line. It is up to the entrepeneurs to identify those and find ways to offer them to appropriate consumers within the context of overall healthcare.
Looking at it this way, it is hard not to get excited about Health 2.0