Monday, October 12, 2009

Credibility in Health Care and the role of VRM (the VRooM Workshop)

Today was my first day back at work after an exciting trip to San Francisco for #HCSFBay and the Health 2.0 Conference. Today is also the kick off of the VRooM Workshop at Harvard hosted by Doc Searls.

The VRooM Workshop is the 2009 East Coast session of the Vendor Relationship Management initiative that was created by Doc Searls. I attended the 2008 Workshop and took part in a lot of very interesting discussions. Those discussions formed a clear link for me between VRM and Health Care.

VRM aims to put more power in the hands of the consumer. This is desperately needed in Health Care as we promote a Participatory model for Health Care and urge a move away from the paternalistic models that have persisted for many years.

One of the concepts I am hoping that VRM can consider is the issue of Portable Credibility or Portable Reputation. This is a concept that I surfaced last week at the Health 2.0 Conference.

In the Health Care industry it is a rare occurrence if the user-generated content in a Personal Health Record is considered as a trustworthy data source by medical professionals. Without that trust there is a continued discouragement against consumers maintaining their records.

At the recent Medicine 2.0 conference in Toronto the closing session on Ethics on line raised the question of liability for "Good Samaritans" providing online advice.

I see these issues as having a common thread. How do we trust a source?

At the same time we have existing platforms that have the potential to provide trust metrics to communities. The most familiar is eBay and Amazon that provide rankings for sellers. I believe there is an untapped resource amongst the Instant Message community. There are many online users that have maintained a screen name on one or more IM services and actively manage their identities. Their reputation is important. I am convinced that AOL missed an opportunity to create a Portable Reputation metric for their screen names on AIM. This is something that Google could possibly address with their deep metrics for Gmail and GoogleTalk users.

We need portable reputation so that we can allow others to assess the potential value and credibility of the information we provide.

I believe this could be invaluable in Health Care. Imagine if I am an engaged patient and I am consistently measuring critical physiological measures. If the accuracy and consistency of these measures could be assigned a recognizable metric then we open up the opportunity to save money and lives in Health Care. 

As we move inevitably in to a world of online Personal Health Records we need to allow Consumer Observations of Daily Living to be added to the series of data sources used in diagnostics and care planning. Failure to address this need consigns us to continued aggressive medical price inflation.

Engaged patients frequently capturing real time data represents a massive untapped resource in health care. The experience with data collated by PatientLikeMe proves the value of this resource. A credibility/reliability metric that could be built over time through confirmations at interaction points with the medical community could provide a metric the medical professional could use when assessing the dependability of information.

Why should VRM look at this? Because the credibility metric is some thing that can apply to both sides. There is no reason that members of the medical community be measured as well. Just like eBay is able to measure buyers and sellers. A credibility/reputation metric could be just as useful to patients that are seeking out cutting edge research about life threatening conditions.

So yes, I hope the VRM workshop considers how we can evolve a Portable Reputation metric that can work for both sides of a transaction. I am sure the applications beyond Health Care are many. However, health care has challenges to solve now. Health Care reform is front and center in the public and government consciousness. 

Developing Portable Reputation for Health Care is an important potential step in promoting the engagement of the patient in Participatory Medicine - as an equal.  

Posted via email from ekivemark's posterous