There’s been a great deal of discussion in the computing and media community about Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is about the Internet becoming a platform for applications and not just a delivery vehicle for information. New technologies like AJAX are providing far more interactivity without the wait, services like Google Maps show that sophisticated web based apps are no longer tied to thick applications that have be download or provided on a CD.
We are now in the era of eHealth 2.0. Back when I co-founded my first eHealth dotcom in 1998, clinical web technologies that were available were only 3 years, expensive to create, and difficult to manage and maintain. Now, however, starting an eHealth 2.0 firm is much cheaper in terms of technology, capital, and resources. It doesn’t take teams of people to create simple solutions and those solutions can be delivered with great speed. And, the marketing dollars necessary are smaller if you have a truly useful service because of Google advertising and the new Web 2.0 advertising mechanisms.
My own new Java-based eHealth 2.0 platform has proven much easier to build over the past couple of years than my original Perl-based one back in 1998. I would recommend anyone that wants to get into the healthcare IT space to look at their local medical communities and see what problems they could solve using Web 2.0 technologies. E-health 2.0 is here and although it’s not the gold-rush of 1998/1999 there are significant opportunities for new players.
One area you can create a solution would be in knowledge-driven care plans based on diagnosis history. For example, create a solution that suggests care plans for docs and nurses based on data about previous patient outcomes when a patient arrives. Most patients that arrive for diagnosis or treatment are not the first ones of their kind: historical data of past cases can drive new care. What’s needed here is a way to connect to the hospital’s existing clinical database but the software is pretty simple once you have that.
Not ready to develop your own software? There are dozens of open source medical and clinical projects that can get you started, too. Do some searches for clinical products on sourceforge and start to provide installation and support services for them. Check out products like ClearHealth (a web-based PHP-driven practice management system and EMR). Most docs still don’t have an EMR and if they can’t afford tens of thousands then perhaps you can come in with a small open source solution and provide hosting and other services. Again, the platform is what matters now since Internet delivery can almost be taken for granted. ClearHealth is just one of dozens of potential open source packages that can be used as basis for a real business.
When trying to deliver e-Health 2.0 solutions focus on real solutions that can improve care and not “just another database”. Computers and databases have bveen in use in the healthcare industry for decades so they have lots of data. Consider what data is already available and how it can be repurposed and repackaged via a thin-client interactive Web 2.0 style platform to provide new ways of care.
We’re in eHealth 2.0 era – and it’s open for all technologists to take part and contribute.