Get a Job: Support the Social Networking Model for the Medical Industry

I used to wait tables at a Mexican restaurant in Montclair NJ, (if you are from this area you likely know which one I am talking about).  The most expensive item on our menu at the time was $13.95 and it got you a huge plate of food.  Besides this perk, we were a BYOB place so people could eat and get drunk for pretty cheap.  Our entire business model (and my tips at the end of the night) depended on a high rate of turnover.  I would turn my tables over anywhere from 4 to 7 times per night, including big parties.  To make money we had to move people in and out.

The medical industry seems to operate much in the same fashion these days: insurers scrutinize claims, cover less, and demand more from our doctors, and as a result, doctors double and triple book patients, filling waiting rooms, spending as little time as possible with each patient so they can service more claims.  This is not a rant about the sad state of our medical care; it is my vision of a future where the medical industry leverages Web 3.0 opportunities, mobile technology, and lessons from social networking to deliver effective  and complete care so doctors can cut costs with a better process rather than a shorter visit.

Here are some of the thoughts I have for such a network:

  • Online Medical Identities: everyone has an online profile somewhere, which is their identity on a social network.  Take that concept to the next level by having online medical profiles created for all U.S. citizens.  These profiles are accessible only by the patient or their doctor through providing personally identifiable information (“PII”) such as a combination of SS#, birth date, and mother’s maiden name, (one day, I envision verification via finger print scan from the user’s touchscreen and verified electornically online). 
  • Single Point Records Access – one of the most frustrating things about visiting any doctor (besides co-pays, long waits, etc.) is having to fill out that same form all the time.  Under the OMI system your dermatologist, cardiologist, therapist, insert-specialist-here, would all be accessing the same living, updated profile.  With that visit, your single record would be updated in real-time.  The insurance company or government program (in my perfect world everyone has insurance) would receive a notification of your visit, access that same record, process payment, and update your profile.  A record of all insurance claims and payments would be part of your OMI, (sorry insurance frauders). 
  • Government & Private Database Protection – let’s face it, the scariest thing about this idea is the thought of some hacker stealing, well, you.   This system centers around creating an official medical network on a secure server (similar to this one), either owned or co-maintained by the government and private partners.  The government can even offer tax-break or other incentives to private partners who participate and secure the server.
  • Touchscreen Net Tablets for Doctors – I am not talking about clunky, tablet laptops that the doc has to balance on his knee while he enters info about you.  I mean a slim, sexy, touch-response tablet about the size of a netbook screen (or Kindle) which wirelessly updates the info.   Make it easy-to-use, intuitive, and functional. 
  • Create Jobs – Obama’s plan to digitize medical records directly supports this idea.  He sees the development, scanning, and maintaining of such an effort as essential to America’s future.  Best of all, it promises to add a new industry, something we sorely need in today’s economy.  How much more so would creating an OMI network add to this.  Networks as big as these do not run themselves (numbers as of Feb. 2009):
    • Facebook – 700 employees / 70M+ users
    • MySpace – 800 employees / 60M+ users
    • Linkedin – 300 employees / 15M+ users

There you have it, 2000 jobs created by 3 of the top silly social networks out there.  Now imagine if you have an essential social network along the lines of OMI how many jobs can be created both by the network itself and the work needed to maintain it. 

What are your thoughts about this?  How could something like this work (or fail miserably)?

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Filed under Commentary and Critiques, Technology, Uncategorized

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