Buzzword Compliance Not Enough: Must Haves for Meaningful Use

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Danny Lieberman


Danny Lieberman, founder of Pathcare talks about 2 things you must have if you want to use private social networking and healthcare apps to simplify and amplify the doctor-patient relationship.

There is so much hype about social media.

I went to a Garage Geeks event in Holon recently. It was sponsored by Google – and about 40-50 Googlers came to Tel Aviv from all over the Google universe to talk to about 500 Israeli geeks who have all manner of ideas – in social, small business, search, Android and enterprise and god knows what else.

When I signed up at the entrance, the beer and pizza was flowing like water and the girl at the desk said that everybody wanted to talk to Google about social. I asked what were my options. She said – well, look at the list.

So – I said, no problem. Small business is a good fit for what we do at Pathcare. Doctors are small businesses and pharmaceutical sales representatives that sell to doctors are also small businesses of a sort. So she says – fine, you have a slot in 10′. I trotted over and did my dog and pony show for Pathcare – the private social network for doctors and patients

I showed how the 2 circles of doctor-patients and pharma-doctors dovetail well together since they amplify the ability make more money (and treat more patients) with less effort, less stress and in less time.

In both circles – pharma-doctor and doctor-patient, there is always a face-to-face physical relationship. That is a given. It’s what happens inbetween the office visits that is problematic. Competitors get in, doctors forget you, patients get off track and forget to execute the therapeutic plan.

Many technology vendors tout the idea of self management,  and the advantages of mobile healthcare apps, virtual visits, tablets and e-detailing but in fact, a face-to-face relationship with a doctor is more powerful than a digital relationship alone based on messaging, online questions and answers and search engine results. We don’t need Sherry Turkle to tell us that.

The question is – how do we mashup healthcare apps, private social networking with our face-to-face relationships to create a richer and more effective user experience.

In “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other”, Sherry Turkle discusses a paradox.

The paradox is that our lives are complex but our digital technologies do not simplify things, amplify our capabilities and make us better at solving complex problems.

On one hand our lives are complex and noisy. Doctors and patients, healthcare providers and caregivers all have responsibilities of family, work, friends, concerns about the price of gas, the Iranian nuclear threat, the Syrians slaughtering their own citizens, patient data breaches and medical device insecurity.

On the other hand, the way we use social networking, healthcare apps, texting and email has drastically shortened the amount of time we actually have to do complex problem solving. Our digital tools have reduced our questions to to messages of 140 characters that can be answered in another message of 140 characters.

We shoot emails to other other, texting our parents and children during our downtime in a train to an appointment and getting multiple channeled messages in mail, voice, text and Facebook; these messages sometimes intruding on our privacy in the shower.

We have a timeline of content on Facebook, but we don’t have overview of our conversations.

We have email that we receive in a browser, mail client and our smartphones, but we don’t have a thread of coherent context.

Medical diagnosis, patient compliance and education is a complex, ongoing piece of problem solving that requires both overview and the coherent context of the patient clinical issue.

Twitter and Facebook may be good for marketing a private practice, but doctors are hard-pressed to do their own data entry, let alone maintain Twitter relationships and blog with their patients.

The current state of affairs literally shouts out for a solution for making doctors more effective, patients more trusting, increasing compliance and improving patient education.

Two must haves for really meaningful use of healthcare apps and private social networking Privacy

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where you want as many people as possible to know how cool you or your new startup is, a private social network for doctors and patients is well, private. It’s a conversation with overview and context between 2 people, not you and all your friends.

What should you look for in a private social network for doctors and patients?

Look for a network based based on a star topology with the doctor the center of the star, connected to patients, caregivers and colleagues.

The doctor and his clinical care team relate to and connects with a “healthcare circle” of patients and caregivers. There should be no overlap between healthcare circles and no overlap between patients in order to prevent patient data leakage.

Patient data is owned by patients and shared with patient discretion. In the doctor’s care circle there should be 4 different levels of access control:

  • Private content – for example, private notes that a doctor or patient makes
  • ACL (authorization control lists) limit data acccess to specific patients – for example, guidance provided to a Parkinsonian patient and family members
  • Group control limits data access to members of a specific group – for example, general guidance on nutrition provided to all the Parkinsons patients in a doctor’s practice.
  • Healthcare circle access – for example, sharing general guidance regarding the importance of exercise, with all members of the doctors care circle.

Long-living context

A point tool for messaging or search for an available doctor or question and answer service is great but what we need is to sustain ongoing context around the clinical issues and guidance.

Doctors are good at short-term diagnosis face-to-face and referring the patient to a specialist or requesting lab tests.

Digital tools are poor at short-term diagnosis but outstanding at maintaining a long term context using the right data model and user interface.

What to look for

Look for the ability to obtain an overview of the patients’ activity as part of their profile.

Look for apps that enable you to not only track guidance and personal experience on a timeline but also organize the data under a central clinical issue and tag them so that you can pick out all the relevant content in a single click.


The future for healthcare apps and private social networking to simplify and amplify doctor-patient relationships is bright with many new and exciting technologies emerging every day.

You will make the most of these new technologies by making sure that they address your needs and the 2 core requirements for privacy and long living context in your doctor patient relationships.

 ”Live long and prosper“!

Cross-posted from Pathcare

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