The value proposition of private social networking for healthcare is saving time not spending time.

You, me, we’re all consumers

As consumers of products and services, doctors are no different from anyone else. They have basic needs (sales is defined as satisfying a need…) for treating patients successfully , being more effective and running a successful business (even if their business is a being a staff geriatrics specialist in a large hospital).

How influenced are you by marketing buzz words?

As consumers, we are influenced by buzz words and what our friends do, but when it comes to a stressed-out physician working for NHS or a busy physiotherapist balancing a career with her family – it comes down to “Show me how this product or service is going to make my life easier“.

Physicians are trained in the scientific method and justifiably question the business proposition of new healthtech products when sprinkled with buzzwords like “healthcare social networks” (reminiscent of Facebook) and “circle of health” (reminiscent of Google Circles) and “personalized communities” (reminiscent of collaborative filtering processes that help users to find interesting items by modeling their preferences and by comparing them with users having the same tastes).

Take for example – the American product, Jiff sounds like its going to be a great product for connecting patients, families and doctors. Mind you, the press release is a bit over the top on marketing buzzwords. You can see how hard it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, the buzz words from the business value.

A consumer-centered healthcare social network and digital health apps platform that allows users to build personalized communities of care comprised of family, friends, doctors, hospice professionals, midwives, home health providers, health coaches and anyone else with whom they want to connect and collaborate. In this private, secure, HIPAA-compliant network, they can share medical documents, videos and information useful to managing health and wellness. Jiff is free, and patients own and control all of their data. Creating a Circle of Health is simple; consumers simply go to Jiff and add three to 15 others who they would like to be in their network. Those people then accept or reject the invitation. Users can also set up networks for others, such as parents or friends. Jiff Press release from March 2012.

Is using a bunch of social buzz-words going to do it for you, Dr. Consumer?

The short answer is no.

Social media has a strong emotional appeal because man is a social animal and that tempts us to consider social media in healthcare without considering the real “killer application” for a doctor (saving time instead of spending time).

Social networking for healthcare is neither entertainment nor advertising. Let’s try and understand why:

System 1 (the intuitive, emotional, instinctive part of our mind) is the system where we spend most of our time. The intuitive attraction of wall posts, friend status updates and pictures of a woman you’re chasing is why you spend so much time on Facebook.

The current model of Facebook and Twitter is to capture users and occupy them on their computer or smartphone so that they spend as much time as possible online. The more time a Facebook user is online, the more time he is exposed to advertising and the more revenue Facebook makes from the real customers (the advertisers).

This – tacitly has very little to do with making busy physicians more effective.

Coming up soon on Dannys Talkhealth Blog we’ll discuss how  System 2 – the cognitive and logical and slow-working part of your decision making process can harness social media to make a doctor’s decision making faster and easier, enhance patient trust and increase patient retention (that’s the business side).




Danny Lieberman is the authority in applying threat analysis to Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in healthcare. He is a sought-after speaker, prolific blogger on healthcare technology, and advisor on software security and privacy compliance issues to healthcare and medical device vendors. He is passionate about Pathcare: the private social network for a doctor and her patients. Danny is a solid-state physicist by training, professional programmer by vocation and avid amateur saxophonist and biker.

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