There’s no doubt that they will get a lot of consumer traffic to their network of sites. One of the things that remains unclear for both Waterfront and WebMD is to what extent they will serve primarily as reference sources versus playing a greater role in consumers’ own health management. The answer may very well lie in the degree to which they provide information therapy (Ix), not just health information.
As 1.0 as it is, there’s certainly no shame in being a valuable reference tool. I’m a big fan of information democratization. But it’s impact on care management has limitations.
From the Ix perspective, accurate and comprehensive health information is only one third of the equation: the right information to the right person at the right time. Proactively delivering (or prescribing) that information “just in time” or at the particular moment in care that someone needs it to make an informed decision or support a healthy behavior requires another level of functionality. Similarly, tailoring that information to the particular needs of a diverse population in a way that is actually understandable, meaningful, engaging and actionable requires considerably more sophistication than the science and technology that supported a 1.0 world.
Just as I’ve said many times before that technology is only a tool, good information is only one (necessary but not sufficient) ingredient in Ix. Figuring out how to get timely, tailored information not only consumed but also internalized by lay people is critically important to effective and efficient health care. This is what Ix is all about.
That’s why the intersection of Ix and Health 2.0 is so important for the future of health care — for effective self-management, for participatory medicine, for real patient-centered medical homes, and for a more effective care delivery system that truly supports consumers’ needs. The IxCenter will be focusing increasingly on this intersection in the coming months, and there is a lot more exciting news on that front coming to you in the very near future.