What if one doctor could “friend” or “link in” with another for the purpose of patient exchange? Today when we hear people talk about clinical integration, they’re talking about financial integration…literally owning every stage of the treatment of a patient just so that the data created from that care can be integrated. That kind of thinking has fostered a proliferation of miniature Kaiser Permanente-like health organizations across the country–each with their own multi-hundred-million-dollar proprietary system to hold their data all in one place.
I think owning a lab is an expensive way to integrate the data from that lab into a common view of a patient—let alone “owning” a cardiologist! Furthermore, as the nexus of health care moves ever further away from the hospital ward and towards the home, owning every point of health care delivery will become increasingly difficult, if not impossible. So what’s the alternative? It’s the same one that gives us integrated credit ratings and the ability to walk up to any ATM in the world and still get money from our own account. It’s a market for clinical information exchange enabled by social networking-type technology.
When you think of it, Facebook and LinkedIn present integrated pictures of all the people you’ve touched in your life or work as soon as you log in. And over time you see how that integrated picture of your life or work life improves.