What is Health 2.0?
We’ve all seen the way that digital technologies have transformed industries across the board. Practically everything, be in manufacturing or shopping, has been irrevocably changed by zeroes and one. Everything that is, apart from healthcare.
Healthcare is a pretty stubborn industry. Because it’s controlled by special interests and the government, it’s a pretty bad example of a market. Unlike other markets, there are regulations galore, it’s hard to enter as a startup, and there are uncertain returns on investment. For this reason, the market for healthcare hasn’t really been transformed like many people expected.
A few years ago, a movement called Health 2.0 was launched. It wasn’t anything official. Instead, it was a collection of ideas that saw the healthcare landscape being transformed in the way that industry or media had been. Before long, we’d all be getting our health care delivered cheaply online, and healthcare costs would be a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, back in 2009 when the idea was first floated, the health care benefits of digitization never fully materialized says the economist.com. There were side projects here and there, but most people just saw their health costs going up and up as the government took over the insurance market and introduced new healthcare legislation.
However, that didn’t stop technologists from trying to keep things moving forwards. Sites like eDrugSearch.com were set up to allow people to compare prescription drug prices from pharmacies all over the country to get the best price. There were also attempts to provide online diagnosis services where people could chat to a health professional or type their symptoms into a database to find out what was wrong with them.
There's also been a proliferation of online support communities for people with different diseases. Whereas in the past it was expensive and time-consuming to put a physical support group together, on internet forums and video calls, it’s essentially free.
Health 2.0 was also all about getting patients to share their data with researchers so that it could be used to develop new drugs and therapies. Doctors needed genetic and biomarker information to be able to see which regimens were effective and which weren't. Unfortunately, even as health 2.0 was announced in the medical press, nobody was collecting patient data on a large enough scale to be useful - not because they couldn’t, but because they were barred by law.
Now, though, we see some movement on this front too. To maintain patient confidentiality, data scientists are looking for ways to share medical information without revealing anything personally identifiable about patients themselves.
Finally, health is becoming more connected. With the advent of the internet, technologists had visions of patients being connected with their doctor all the time. Their doctor would be able to monitor their biomarkers and issue instructions to take their medication. For a long time, that didn’t happen, but now pioneering clinics, like the Mayo Clinic, are starting to implement this sort of technology, thanks to app builders making the underlying software.
Thus, even though health 2.0 didn’t get off to the best start, it looks like it's finally coming of age.