Rather than question, “How is social collaboration transforming health care,” we need to be asking: “How can social collaboration effectively catalyze rapid, transformational change in our dysfunctional healthcare system?
Increase transparency to foster change
The obvious strength of social media is its ability to disseminate information with extraordinary rapidity across highly diverse audiences. If we assume that one of the great limiting factors for change in healthcare is a lack of transparency, than perhaps social media can be leveraged to begin to pull back the veil on healthcare.
There are organizations pursuing such a strategy – including Angie’s List, which aggregates patient reviews of physicians and publishes them on the web. The problem, of course, is that consumers do a very poor job of evaluating the clinical competency of providers, and thus base their observations primarily on “high-touch” variables. Furthermore, the platform does not allow for interaction with those providing reviews…and thus it is a one-way conversation.
But what if there was an unbiased enterprise (presumably non-profit) that allowed consumers to enter structured or guided information regarding their interaction with healthcare providers that went beyond superficial observations, then cleansed the data, and aggregated it in a fashion that gave it utility to a broad audience? And what if this data formed the foundation for social collaboration regarding provider selection? In other words, you could see aggregated data, as well as converse with people who were willing to speak about their experiences.
Evaluate the clinical experience
I'm not envisioning questions that merely probe satisfaction with such variables as provider communication, but rather questions that begin to unmask the clinical experience, including:
- Did your procedure go as planned (Y/N)? If not, please explain.
- Were you given a complete explanation as to the nature of your treatment, as well as potential adverse effects?
- Were subsequent, unplanned treatments (or hospitalizations) required within 30 days of your initial treatment?
- Did you experience an infection as a direct result of your treatment?
- Were the costs of your treatment fully explained to you?
- Would you recommend this facility for the type of treatment you underwent?
After 30 years of observing the glacial pace of change within health care, I’m convinced that it will take consumers, empowered with the “right” information, to drive transformational change in health care – and we should be providing them with the appropriate tools accompanied by venues for meaningful social collaboration.