Location, Location, Location

1477661By DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)

Microblogging? Sooo 2008.

If you listen to the hype that emanated from SXSW, it’s all about location, location, location.

Not very long ago, the idea to make it possible for people to transmit short bursts of information to their group of friends was groundbreaking. Now that Facebook made their status updates a big broader, and Twitter has hit the tipping point, that’s not new – it’s de rigeur. I bet you use one or both of those sites. And I bet you’ve “thought in Tweets” because of it – had one of those moments where you were listening to the radio or having a conversation and hit upon a pithy phrase that you simply HAD to go use as your status update.

It’s okay, don’t be embarrassed. We all do it.

The point is, we all do it. Microblogging is part of our automatic thought process now. That didn’t take very long, did it?

Next is location – making use of the fact that so many social networks are accessed from mobile devices to pinpoint the user’s location and provide them geographically useful information. One of the better-known services was Dodgeball, which was founded in 2000, sold to Google in 2005, shut down by Google in 2009, and re-emerged as Foursquare with the same founders, also last year.

Popular in major cities, it enables you to tell your friends where you’ve just arrived. Users can win “collect-them-all” style “badges” for their accounts for different feats – checking in at enough consecutive bars, for instance, or checking in very late, earns you a variety of partier-appropriate badges. The user to check in the most often at a particular destination in the last month can win the title of “mayor” of that place. Destinations can be anything from restaurants to airports to shops.

So what? What does a bar-hopper’s iPhone app have to do with healthcare?

Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.

Consider the utility of a app for over-active bladder sufferers that points them to the nearest public restroom. Consider the utility of an app for travelers that immediately directs them to the nearest chemist, surgeon or urgent care center. Consider the utility of an app that could alert you when your elderly relative suffering from dementia leaves a prescribed geographic area.

Some of these already exist today, and many more are currently under development.

Your patients don’t stay at home any more than you do. They have lives to live, people to be there for, careers to manage, the world to see. How can you help them do that?

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