What Is The Future Of Collaborative Medicine?

David Edward Marcinko, MBA, CMP, and Professor Hope Rachel Hetico, RN, MHA, CPQH, CMP

   Social networking for patients, employers and insurers. In the Health 2.0 world, social networking has a new meaning. For example, DailyStrength (http://www.dailystrength.org/) creates online journals while members give virtual “hugs” to support one another 24/7. PatientsLikeMe (http://www.patientslikeme.com/) focuses on neurologic, immunodeficiency, endocrine and mood disorders. Information is plotted graphically over time to help members see outcomes on specific symptoms. MedHelp (http://www.medhelp.org/) adds topic-based forums featuring physician experts while ReliefInsite.com focuses on chronic pain management.

   Professional networking for medical providers. In the Health 2.0 space, Sermo.com is the largest online healthcare community with more than 115,000 community members. (Sermo does not allow member podiatrists at this time. A related site for DPMs is Podiatry.com.) At this site, physicians pose questions so that they can share clinical findings and unusual events to add to collective knowledge and advance patient care. Active physician licenses are verified upon entrance but doctors can maintain an anonymous profile thereafter.

   Pharmaceutical companies pay to access the observations and clinical insights on Sermo, which may now be considered the de facto national medical membership organization, given that fewer than 18 percent of all MDs belong to the formerly august American Medical Association.4

   Ozmosis (https://www.ozmosis.com/ home) is another site that pools and shares clinical pearls but its revenue comes from medical technology companies that sponsor forums seeking user experiences like iMedExchange (http://www.imedexchange.com/).

   Other health networks are:
• Knol (http://knol.google.com/k)
• HealthLine (http://www.healthline.com/)
• MedNotes (https://www.drugs.com/ mednotes.html)
• WebMD (http://www.webmd.com/)
• BoardCertifiedDocs (http://www.boardcertifieddocs.com)
• MentalHealth (http://www.mentalhealth.net/)
• ChainOnLine (http://www.chainonline.org)
• Medpedia (http://www.medpedia.com/)
• Health Professionals Network (http://www.healthpronet.org/)
• HCPLive (http://www.hcplive.com/)
• The Doctor’s Channel (http://www.thedoctorschannel.com/)

   Health 2.0 platforms for all. Anyone can now create his or her own Web site, blog, vlog or e-forum. Popular build-your-own platforms are Ning (http://www.ning.com/), Blogger (http://www.blogger.com/), WordPress (http://wordpress.org/), TypePad (http://www.typepad.com/), Trifecta (http://www.trifectaky.com/index.php), Tripod (http://www.tripod.lycos.com/) and Squarespace (http://www.squarespace.com/). These are virtually free and require minimal programming skills.

Addressing The Criticisms And Vulnerabilities Of Health 2.0

Of course, Health 2.0 has more than a few drawbacks.

   Beware of physician, hospital and accreditation rating services. These sites offer anonymous ratings and credential information on medical providers. Patients are able to find financial, divorce, criminal, civil or malpractice information in some cases. Entire medical institutions may also be negatively implicated. Congress even temporarily revoked the Joint Commission’s statutory authority to accredit healthcare facilities in 2008 when faced with Health 2.0 competition from upstart DNV Healthcare Inc., a division of the Norwegian company Det Norske Veritas.

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