Facebook, Meet Health Care

May 20, 2009 www.advanceweb.com

© 2009, www.advanceweb.com.

Using technology to improve patient care and communication related to patient care is not an entirely new concept; however, it has recently picked up significant momentum. More and more health information exchange (HIE) networks are popping up at the community and state-wide levels. Nowadays, a health care provider may participate in a regional health information organization (RHIO), and Internet-based personal health record (PHR) repositories, such as Microsoft's HealthVault and Google's GoogleHealth, have become familiar household names. Soon, it is expected and hoped that health information will be exchanged across the nation in an organized, coordinated and easily-accessible manner. But, even this trend is not catching on at the same speed as social networking sites.

The sharing of health care information, whether through a RHIO or other HIE networks, is often thought of as the linear sending or receipt of information related to medical care that has been or will be rendered to a patient. For example, we would send an electronic health record to another provider, or request a test result to be sent from the diagnostic facility to the primary doctor for follow-up or send a claim to the payer for reimbursement.

Now imagine if such information could be shared in present "real time" directions. And, what if that could be achieved with less administrative burden and lower costs than is needed for other HIE network models? Enter the "Facebook" social Internet network model, and the question of what if it could be modified, secured and assimilated with the HIE network model? Can the software technology that makes social networking so fluid and seemingly straightforward be adapted for use in the health care context?


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