Health 2.0 – The Tale of Two Industries

The internet has become integral to our lives.  Introduced to the masses in the mid-90’s, the internet allowed for fast and efficient flow of information over space and time.  To stay afloat after the tech bubble burst in 2002, the computing industry had to find new and imaginative ways to combine technology, products and services that would interest consumers.  This new way of using the internet is referred to as Web 2.0.

Sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter popped up and blogs, wikis and podcasts were created.  Web 2.0 is more than technology, it is a social, cultural and political phenomenon that allows for users to participate and generate content.  The computing industry in general has become one where quality is increasing and costs are decreasing.

America’s healthcare system on the other hand, is in dire need of life support. The largest industry in the U.S., it takes up 17% of the GDP.  It is a lumbering giant characterized by high costs, inefficiency, and poor quality.  It follows an archaic business model that provides no incentive for wellness.

When the two ends of the spectrum collide:   Web 2.0 + Healthcare = Health 2.0.

A new concept, it is still being defined by industry experts.  A more general definition given recently by Ted Eytan, MD says, “Health 2.0 is participatory health care.  Enabled by information, software, and community that we collect or create, we the patients can be effective partners in our own healthcare, and we the people can participate in reshaping the health system itself.”

Health 2.0 has the potential to revolutionize healthcare.  Every time you visit websites like Organized Wisdom, RightHealth or PatientsLikeMe, or visit a drug company’s website to research side effects, you are helping purport this revolution.  It’s not just patients researching symptoms and side effects though.  Health 2.0 encompasses a move toward an integrated healthcare system.  As care providers use technology to access a patient’s electronic health record, the result is a continuum of care that follows a patient throughout the healthcare system.  By enhancing communication and thus the relationship between care givers and patients, the system provides better care based on individual needs.  Providers will know if their patient does not speak English, which therapies were received and which were effective, tests that were run, and which drugs were prescribed.  They will reduce the expense of duplicating tests and the danger of interacting drugs.  The result is a more cost effective system with educated and empowered caregivers and patients.

So, what is Health 2.0?  If the right tools are offered globally in all languages, it is about participatory healthcare characterized by open communication among caregivers, patients, healthcare professionals and researchers.  Health 2.0 has the ability to transcend cultures and languages to empower patients and healthcare providers with information.

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