Highlights from Doctors 2.0

I’m still working my way through notes, video, links and tweets to try and and bring together as much as possible of the interesting content to come out of Doctors 2.0.

In the meantime, here’s a few of the hot topics:

Empowering the doctor, not just the patient
It’s easy to assume that digital health is all about encouraging patients to access information and communicate online. However, several speakers, including Kathi Apostolidis and Lucien Engelen, were keen to emphasise that, on balance, patients have been much more progressive in their adoption of the web. In many respects the more pressing issue is to help health care professionals acknowledge and adopt digital tools, so that they are better prepared for the informed patient who arrives in their surgery.

Taking the hype out of digital innovation

The main auditorium at Doctors 2.0
Panel discussion in full flow, with huge Twitter wall recording proceedings, top right

On my panel of speakers, chaired by Bryan Vartabedian, we discussed the all-too-common fear of digital as a primary obstacle to adoption of the web for health information and communication.
My take-away from this was that while digital evangalists are an essential part of any organisation, they (and I guess I am one of those) can be almost as much of a hindrance. It’s important to take the ‘geek’ factor out of people’s perception of digital.

Evaluating success properly
It was apparent from discussions around the table, that healthcare organisations are still not clear how to evaluate success properly. Commercial organisations either evaluate social media by attributed product sales (very difficult to measure and possibly unsustainable) or simply by the number of ‘likes’ or fans they attract. Not a very useful way of measuring the value of social media, and either approach is likely to undermine the true value.
I don’t think Doctors 2.0 quite nailed an answer to this, but there were interesting conversations about the value of facilitating conversations between patients, so that they can help each other.

The role of Government in digital health
At one point the conference organisers launched an audience poll to ask the audience to what degree they thought Government should be involved in digital health.
Optional answers ranged from ‘none at all’ to ‘Government should pay for, regulate and control all online health content’.
Amazingly, the majority of the audience thought that Government’s should control as much of the information as possible; paying for, and regulating it too. I think this may be more a reflection of the international audience present, who acknowledged the difficulties posed by private sector organisations funding healthcare information.
Personally, I thought this question was a a little over-simplistic in its approach. We need to consider what is already available out there, the quality of that information, and most importantly the role of patients in governing and editing the information that is available.

That’s a quick run-down of some of the hot topics, with more to follow. I hope to pick up on some of these issues through #nhssm in the coming weeks.


10 thoughts on “Highlights from Doctors 2.0”

  1. I enjoyed your story!

    I think one of the underlying issues facing doctors today is that the solutions that are being offered to “cure” the failing business models most physicians face, do not affect the underlying issues in our current system. For these solutions to work – the application of technology in the areas of EMR, PHR and E-prescription chief among them – they would actually need to address the flow of money through the supply chain. They don’t!

    I just don’t think we have a Health Care “System”. We have a disjointed, disconnected (even with technology), disaffected, and intra-competitive series of care providers, care facilitators, and payers/sponsors of care. In every other industry the supply chain for goods and services has evolved to be surprisingly similar both in methods, number of steps in the chain, relative percentage of costing at each step etc… Health care, is one of the true anomalies. In every other chain, please pardon the analogy, each participant – from the raw materials producer, to the manufacturer, to the distributor, to the seller, to the servicer – prey on the price paid by the end consumer of the goods or services. In other words all participants’ margin flows backwards from the end point – the purchaser.
    In our current health care mess, this is not the case. Each participant in the chain, prey on each other’s margin in a system where the relationship between invoice price (published rate) and reimbursement are specious and arbitrary and none in the chain can predict their income, nor most of their expenses.
    Until this is fixed, the rest of the discussions to me become moot.

    I just don’t think we have a Health Care “System”. We have a disjointed, disconnected (even with technology), disaffected, and intracompetitive series of care providers, care faciltators, and payors/sponsors of care. In every other industry the supply chain for goods and services has evolved to be suprizingly similar.

    1. Thanks for your comment Thomas. I am assuming you are referring to the US health care ‘system’?
      I understand your point about the basic economics needing to balance before technology can have a significant impact.
      Of course, here in the UK the healthcare system is free at the point of need but in a similar way, the basic service provided has to be right before technology can be employed to it’s full potential.

      1. Yes Tim you are correct I was referring to the U.S. Health Care collection of confusion. Your article has prompted me to write my own post to further expand on this issue. I have been having a number of discussions with physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, medical device manufacturers, pharma, and others for the past few years and most intensely in the past few months as I have been writing my book.

        Here the underlying problem is much more systemic and, in my view, “untreatable.” That is, until we actually construct an effective supply chain. Sorry for the duplication in the post. I wrote in in word and cut and pasted once and it ended up like that. My Post, further expanding the discussion, will be up today or tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.