Internet developments that brought us sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia are now set to revolutionise healthcare, according to a new research report from online news service and publisher, E-Health Insider.
Titled ‘Web 2.0 in the Health Sector: Industry Review with a UK perspective’ the report concludes that new applications based on social health networks and content generated by health service users themselves – such as reviews of doctors and hospitals – will rapidly evolve to challenge existing healthcare systems and create new ways of delivering our healthcare.
The research report details how the application of web 2.0 technologies is now driving far-reaching changes in healthcare systems in the UK, USA and Europe, a trend it terms e-health 2.0. The report says those who ignore the deep trends of e-health 2.0 risk missing the early stages of a social, economic and technological tectonic shift in healthcare planning and delivery.
Sir Muir Gray, Chief Knowledge Officer of the NHS, says in his foreword to the report: “This publication summarises some of the effects of the revolution and identifies directions in which the revolution will drive in future. The report of the revolution will, like all reports of revolutions, please some people and frighten others, but the accuracy and insights are important for all.”
Produced by award-winning online health IT news service E-Health Insider ‘Web 2.0 in the Health Sector: Industry Review with UK Perspective’, examines how participatory networked web 2.0 technologies – exemplified by Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia – are being applied to healthcare.
The report argues that e-health 2.0 will first and foremost be consumer-led. Health is consistently one of the most searched for subjects online. The application of web 2.0 technologies into health is already challenging traditional doctor-patient relationships and beginning to place far greater power in the hands of consumers. These changes are likely to be rapid and may prove highly disruptive.
The 108 page research report – the most comprehensive undertaken from a UK perspective on e-health 2.0 – states that a wide range of applications have already been developed and are in use in health, with early signs of a groundswell of participation in the traditionally conservative healthcare sector.
E-Health Insider Research Editor and report author Lindsey Birnsteel, said: “Though important, this is not just about user generated content through social networking tools, Wikis, blogs, video clips, or mash-ups. Web 2.0 technologies are now being used for new interactions between patients and providers.”
Birnsteel pointed to the UK service Patient Opinion as a standard bearer in connecting public feedback into the development of health services. “With Patient Opinion the views of the public are being directly fed back into the NHS to drive service improvements.”
Twenty e-Health 2.0 companies and organisations leading this fast emerging sector are profiled through questionnaire and follow-up interviews. The profiles provide a broad cross section of the wide range of e-health 2.0 applications already available. Organisations profiled are drawn from the USA, UK and Germany, and range from small start-ups to giants including Microsoft and NHS Choices.
The profiles provide a snapshot of innovation across healthcare: from organisations providing online communities for patients with specific conditions, tools for chronic disease management, sites that enable patients to rate the quality of care they receive, together with tools to enable clinicians to better search for and share research data.
According to Sir Muir, “All health services will be influenced by the third healthcare revolution in which information technology plays an important part.”
The report calls on leaders from all areas of healthcare to be aware of the ways e-health 2.0 is beginning to redefine the practice and business of healthcare.
It concludes that although at an early stage an e-health 2.0 revolution is now underway, and makes a series of recommendations for healthcare providers, commissioners and policy makers on how to make the most of the opportunities created.
An executive summary of the ‘Web 2.0 in the Health Sector: Industry Review with UK Perspective’ report is available on E-Health Insider.