March 10, 2011

Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, social/life experience platforms and the healthcare business case

Social is a huge business opportunity. Likely soon enough, all business verticals will make use of it in some form to drive sales and profits. Historically speaking, the internet went from a content-based search to a conversation-based discovery. The preeminence of Facebook and Twitter are two prime examples of the conversation-based discovery that is making the most of our internet activity these days - well, aside from all those YouTube videos I watch. 

A conversation-based internet is about users sharing their experiences both big and small. This is especially true for Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and maybe a little less for LinkedIn. I made the switch in my head; Facebook or Twitter are no longer social sites or conversations, they are life experience platforms.

From my standpoint, when it's time to create products, this is where it gets interesting:
  • What does this concept of life experience sharing mean in the context of our clients' business and related verticals;
  • These platforms are as much about sharing my experience as they are about consuming the ones from my network and what do I do with the information.
Vertical socialization challenges

It's early in the game and not that many verticals are making use of social platforms. Commerce is a big player trying to find its legs. Content is an obvious one. In some way or the other they make use of:
  • Recommendations and reviews;
  • Group influence (buying);
  • Shopping communities.
What about healthcare or telecommunications? What does it mean in these contexts to tap the power of life experiences sharing and consumption? Are there any experiences to be shared or consumed that would make a solid business case?

Looking into healthcare to start, is there value for a Healthcare EMR vendor to have a user centric client as part of its offering? A user client could allow the patient access to their file and recommended readings from their practitioners about the diseases and treatments they will undergo for one. Taking a facebook frame of mind, what if anything would a patient want to share about their health? In general, I would presume not much, but with your family there is a definite business case there and true value for the patient. 

The big thing that's on everybody's mind these days is the efficiency of the healthcare system. A huge and very important dimension that is often forgotten is the patient's dignity through the whole process. I think we must research some more on how social platforms can help with this aspect. Since our social platforms are all about life experience, and my health and recovery has been a big life experience on its own, I suspect they can play a big role.

How can social platforms be better leveraged to improve the dignity side of things in the healthcare domain?
That's it for me, now what do you think?

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