Social Technologies in Health Care – Part II

Note: This is the second of three posts based on material I provided in advance for  a two-part panel in March sponsored by ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership, “Social Technologies in Healthcare: Applications, Implications and What’s Next?“ 

Question Two: What are the biggest challenges to the effective use of social technologies in health care?

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) are probably the biggest barriers. Concerns about potential implications of disclosure of private medical information must be addressed. Making data security as bulletproof as possible must be a priority; if I can send money anywhere in the world from my Web browser without concern about theft, I should be able to do the same with medical information. Alternatively, or perhaps concurrently, we should work to reduce the potential harm that could come from medical data being disclosed, by ensuring that such information couldn’t be used to deny insurance coverage or employment.

Technically, it’’s a matter of convening standards bodies to enable data portability while protecting data security, and encouraging software engineers to develop a user experience that builds upon or is at least equivalent to the general purpose social networks.

While some FUD is reasonable (we do, after all, live in an uncertain world), some of the fears about social media in health care seem to go beyond what the data would dictate. Worst-case scenarios are envisioned and assigned high probabilities, which prevents the serious contemplation of far more likely beneficial outcomes. We need to understand that keeping the current delivery system and just reducing reimbursements and cutting the length of doctor appointments is a guaranteed path to declining quality and patient satisfaction, and that social tools hold the promise to enable more in-depth interactions with physicians when necessary while creating communities of smarter patients who can help each other.

These tools also have immense potential for helping teams to work smarter together. The idea of the corporate firewall fortress also may limit some organizations’’ willingness to consider Software-as-a-Service solutions.

For the answer to Question One, go here.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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