I was staring at the program cover for the special joint conference between Health 2.0 and the Center for Information Therapy going on here in Boston when a sudden realization jumped out at me: both of these movements talks about the consumer, yet both are disconnected from the consumer in an important way any consumer would notice but none of us wonks have commented upon.Before we get to the basis for this flash of insight, allow me to provide some context. One of the themes of this conference is exploring where Information Therapy and Health 2.0 converge and diverge. One area of convergence is that both Information Therapy founder Don Kemper and Health 2.0’s Matthew Holt are widely recognized within the health care community as extraordinary individuals. In addition, their respective missions are aggressively “pro-consumer.” And yet, there is a disconnect.
Here’s the proof. Take the program cover and ask a non-wonk to read it. This is what they will read: “Health 2.0 meets…(pause) ixe?” As in, “That’s not a word, is it?” No, nor is it an abbreviation any consumer would read as “eye-ex.” Rather, it’s an abbreviation anchored in the world of physicians and other health professionals, where “Rx” means “prescription” and “Dx” means “diagnosis.” It is an abbreviation coined to encourage insurance reimbursement for a particular clinical action. Since then, Ix Therapy has become a much more broad-based, much more patient-centered movement. But the name shows the early focus.“Health 2.0,” with its little dialogue box attached, is only a bit better. The dialogue box is a symbol for interactivity immediately recognizable by the Web savvy and a puzzle to everyone else. If “Ix” signals medical professionals, then “2.0” serves the same function for techies. More specifically, it signals those aware that Web 2.0 is shorthand for the semantic Web and Web-as-platform that you are applying these lessons to the health care “space.” Of course, since Health 2.0 also has business-to-business applications (as my Health 2.0 Advisors colleague Brian Klepper explicated Wednesday morning), the techie designation may be a good thing for its inclusivity.What’s in a name? Perhaps nothing. After all, both these movements are designed to benefit consumers, not to solicit them as members of a club with a catchy moniker. Moreover, individual Ix Therapy and H20 companies don’t call themselves that. They speak to real people using names like Inspire and Diabetes Mine.Still, before we pat ourselves on the back too much for our terrific empathy with the Average Woman (men don’t use health care, didn’tyaknow?), we should at least pause for the time it takes to write an Information Therapy prescription or post a rating of our doctor’s office visit to recognize that both movements live in their own bubble. We speak a specialized language with its own assumptions and blind spots. Perhaps when Health 2.0 meets Ix, the result will be a heightened ability see another point of view other than our own.