Health Care Changes Beyond Social Media

future of healthcare

By DJ Edgerton

Earlier this month, Ad Age published an opinion piece by blogger Jonathan Richman titled “No, Pharma’s Digital Future Isn’t All Social Media: Here’s What My Crystal Ball Looks Like.” He points out that there’s more to consider beyond the current media darling (social media) and postulates – first, that the FDA isn’t going to issue social media-specific guidelines – last, that where other industries are now, pharma may be in five years – and several more in between. Check the article out – and furthermore, check out the discourse in the comments. Here are a couple of opinions that his thoughts touched off – one positive, one more skeptical.

Bad news first: it seems that his thoughts on physician crowdsourcing are fascinating, but wishful thinking. It’s not that he’s wrong: it does make perfect sense for insurance companies to pay physicians to participate in physician social networks. Crowdsourcing expertise would improve overall outcomes and minimize insurance payments. But for it to happen in the next two years? It just seems as if it will require a pretty big revolution before managed care starts making that much sense.

Seriously, such a step would require a much less legalistic and risk-averse mentality than any HMO has at present. Let’s hope the current U.S. government’s health care reform does change that, and proves Jonathan right.

His prediction for social networking to become more integrated with all online activity seems far more likely to happen soon. Just think about the word itself. Social is – social. It’s interactive.

Because of that, expecting the social media and social networks that are currently popular to remain so is silly. History has already proven that wrong anyway. Think about it: how often do you check your profile on Myspace? Friendster? Ryze?

Social interactions facilitate evolution. They also facilitate innovation. This means that by definition, social isn’t going to stay exactly the way it is right now for very long.

Already, just about any activity you can think of is interactive. Movie renting. Reading. Prayer. Running. And, of course, being a patient.

As the public becomes more accustomed to, and expectant of, the ability to not only find information online, to enjoy doing it, and to share what they find with people that matter to them – patient social networking applications are going to increase, and physician ones will start cropping up as well.

Why will this work? Because it will be reflective of an overall change that permeates online experience everywhere. It will dictate, by virtue of its omnipresence, to the pharmaceutical industry, rather than require initiative that would have to come from within the industry itself.

So there are two predictions. Now, what are yours? A year from today, what digital difference will there be in health care – or, at least, what one are you hoping for?

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3 Responses to Health Care Changes Beyond Social Media

  1. Thanks for quoting and commenting on yet another one of my stories. Just looking for one piece of clarification from you.

    You said: “His prediction for social networking to become more integrated with all online activity seems far more likely to happen soon. Just think about the word itself. Social is social. Its interactive.

    Because of that, expecting the social media and social networks that are currently popular to remain so is silly. History has already proven that wrong anyway. Think about it: how often do you check your profile on Myspace? Friendster? Ryze?”

    Not sure where in my article that I said social networks that are currently popular will remain popular. In fact, I don’t mention any by name in my article. The only specific social tool that gets a mention is Glue, which transcends any specific social networking site and links all of your networks together.

    Perhaps you didn’t mean to write it so as to sound that I was being “silly,” but that’s how it reads.

    Just looking for some clarity, so that I can rebut if necessary.

    Thanks,
    Jonathan

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for the comment, Jonathan. I meant to warn folks against the idea of becoming too heavily invested in individual platforms given that trends like Open ID, Facebook Connect and … yes, Glue, are spreading the concept of “platform agnosticism”. I can see how that might be misconstrued as critiquing your original comments rather than warning against making assumptions based on those comments and apologize for any implied slight. As the rest of my post clearly demonstrates, I really enjoyed your piece and your writing in general.

  3. To be sure, feel free to critique my comment or writing any time. That’s part of the debate that makes the discussion more interesting and where some of the best ideas come from. I don’t pretend to have them all.

    I completely agree with what you’re saying. I’ve done a few presentations about how it doesn’t matter if you want to add social features to your site, people will do it anyway using something as simple as the Facebook toolbar available for most browsers. There the website doesn’t even have a say in how the sharing happens and what is said (opposite if they enable Facebook Connect). http://su.pr/25BpSj (see slide 34).

    I’ve also said that pharma companies have to start using OpenID partly because people don’t want to give their info to pharma companies and so they might be missing people who would otherwise sign up for newsletters and the like. Check out number 10: http://su.pr/4CPa6b

    PS: it’s pretty hard to “slight” me, but thanks for saying it. I’ve got a pretty thick skin and certainly have seen my share of fair and unfair comments (yours being the former of course).

    Keep up the great work. Glad to see someone else focusing on pharma digital marketing. I found it hard to believe I was the only one for a long time.