Reaction to the Health 2.0 Spring Fling Conference

(This submission from Dan Kogan the CEO of HealthWorldWeb was posted by me, Matthew Holt, but not edited at all, nor was it solicited! Honest!)

As soon as I left the Health 2.0 Conference, I knew I would be remembering panels, meetings, contacts both random and planned, excitement, creativity and the endless enthusiasm in the air. If there was anything to carry out of these intense few days it was the positive charge of energy that I still carry with me.

The fact that US Healthcare system is profoundly broken does not come as a surprise to anyone. Patients are not very well educated about health issues, insurance limits the choice for patients and forces doctors into conveyor-like processing rather than delivering the quality healthcare patients should be receiving. However, people who are involved in the many venues that have surfaced out of what Matthew Holt coined as “Health 2.0”, are pro-actively seeking changes.

The leitmotif of the conference was connecting consumers and providers. The format varied from the “Accelerator” track to demo and reaction panels, and perhaps the best aspect of the conference – endless hallway discussions, socializing and schmoozing.

With all the excitement generated by the field enthusiasts, overwhelmed entrepreneurs and cold-blooded VC’s; a few phrases stood out:

  • These are the band aids over the broken system.
  • We need a complete solution.
  • We need data operability.

I’d like to comment on each of these:

These are the band aids over the broken system

Yes, but everyone is aware of the office-made band-aid balls, so
solid you could kill with them. Yet made of thin, elastic band aids. So
the moral is as soon as we start communicating we build a ball from
these band aids. The communication should be facilitated and enabled by
technology, data standards and a human will to communicate.

We need a complete solution.

The ecosystem that needs to be built as a complex system would obey
the principals of self-organization and would thrive producing useful
data mashups and aggregations. Of course, there are a lot of questions
and challenges: Monetization, combination of business models,
re-distribution of wealth, etc.

Having said that, my own observation is that most of the innovative
startups are free for consumers, ad-driven and eager to be part of a
bigger solution. And with proper organization of the breeding ground we
could recompute these clicks without much of a hassle. The 1 million
dollar question is who wants to lead these efforts.

Moreover, once we build our ecosystem we should be able to see the
areas which are overly crowded and the areas left to be filled out. The
Darwinian laws would prevail and better technologies would survive
while the weaker ones would die out. With proper communication channels
between various functional operations the complete solution would
arise.

Consider this use case:

Consumer feels some symptoms, goes on line and researches these
symptoms, gets educated via articles, stories, news, Q&As, videos,
finds the patient community that recommends the best doctor (let us not
forget that part), schedules appointment on-line and goes to see the
doctor or gets treated by the new “breed” of e-Doctors. After the visit
he or she goes back to the rating site and leaves a review. Possibly, a
patient needs to be referred to another doctor, who would hopefully be
able to view the patient’s records on line accompanied by the notes
from the previous doctor.

There could be a few more variations but all of them involve the same thing, an interoperable ecosystem.

We need data operability

So to get from the “These are the band aids over the broken system“
to “We need a complete solution” the first step is the data
operability. How can we achieve it? By promoting consistency of Data
Exchange Protocols using XML, as well as, bringing these definitions
into 21 century using semantic web, ontologies and RDF.

I was really excited visiting the Health 2.0 conference for the
second time and for the second time I would like to pay tribute to the
conference organizers Matthew Holt, Indu Subaiya, John Pluenneke, Sara
Walker and many many others behind the computer screens, in the
hallways, and behind the stage. As always, Matthew, Indu and their team
have shown the highest level of professionalism and creativity.

Dan Kogan

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