Presidential Candidate invokes Health 2.0 by Matthew Holt

This is really interesting. In the middle of a speech attacking the current administration’s handling of health IT, a leading Presidential candidate invokes the need for the health care system to deal with Health 2.0. OK, so it’s not a US Presidential candidate, instead it’s the opposition leader in the UK (David Cameron) who’s vying to become prime minister (a job with much more power in the context of UK system than the President has here).

But can you imagine an American candidate talking this way?

He said the NHS needed to seize the opportunities of the network economy to enable people to take greater control of their health and well-being. He illustrated the point by contrasting the traditional model of medical knowledge being stored in “the great teaching hospitals”, to today’s reality where Google makes available far more medical knowledge available to individuals than any individual clinician could know.

In addition, he said with the rise of social networking and Web 2.0 technologies medical knowledge is being created by patients themselves. “The experiences of patients can be distributed horizontally, from patient to patient, through online networks, rather than vertically as before through doctors and hospitals.”

He related his own experience as the father of an ill child, searching Google for information on their treatment. “You join the international support group. You pick up ideas about drugs and treatments. All too often you then bombard your doctor with questions about these things – but often these are the right questions to ask and sometimes you might even pick up an idea before they do.”

“And it’s this horizontal diffusion of knowledge that makes me so confident we can do better than the Government’s proposal for a vast, centralised, NHS database.”`

Cameron is clearly on the ball about the challenges of centralized versus decentralized control of knowledge. And it’s a discussion that has ramifications for health care everywhere.

Matthew Holt

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