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Oct 11 2011   1:52PM GMT

Transformational change revolves around information: Lessons from Dreamforce 2011

Posted by: Jenny Laurello
Cloud, Cloud computing, Dreamforce, Dreamforce 2011, Virtualization and cloud computing

Guest post by: Kevin Dodson, Appirio’s Mobile Practice

Industry conferences are the most worthwhile when the messages delivered have an impact on your daily work. With the events of this year’s Dreamforce conference, the largest cloud computing conference in the world, still fresh on the minds of attendees, we’re already seeing the impact of Marc Benioff’s keynote message – why and how to become a more social enterprise.

The social enterprise, according to Benioff, is the weaving of social context into business. Social media is changing how we connect and share things in our personal lives and-increasingly-in business. Work is more productive when colleagues and customers can collaborate with each other online. This is one reason why Salesforce has made a push for private, internal collaboration with its Chatter initiative – a real-time collaborative tool that applies some of the same concepts from Facebook and Twitter.

As a Dreamforce attendee, I spent my time onsite thinking about how the social enterprise should be translated into the health care industry. Having worked for a large health care organization, it was easy to apply the takeaways to today’s medical world.  For health care, the social enterprise translates into delivering information to patients more efficiently.  By doing this, both health care organizations and patients will save time and be better equipped with data for better decision making. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Social is efficient and can be secure. Don’t think of “social” as Facebook and Twitter. Sharing patient data on those public platforms is condemned for obvious reasons. However, using secure, private collaboration platforms such as Chatter allows medical teams to track activities about a patient in a central location with multiple access points. Secure, collaborative environments like this could allow physicians to communicate treatment information about a patient to each other quickly and easily to ensure consistent treatment. Pharmaceutical or medical device orders could be placed and tracked with a simple “post” to the Chatter feed. As a patient, wouldn’t it be comfortable  to know that your doctor’s notes were easily accessible when they need it and not lost in some dusty file folder?
  • The user is king.  Historically, a typical hospital information system is designed by an IT department. This has been the case because IT knew what its software and network capabilities were and what they were capable of supporting. However, just as IT teams in corporations have started to include more user-friendly devices and applications (the “consumerization of the enterprise”), that same shift is now taking place in the health care world. Health care employees, physicians, nurses, technicians, etc, could be using the same technology that you and I buy for ourselves – smart phones, tablets and social networks. As you know, these devices and applications are user-friendly and require minimal training – adoption and utilization of internal software and apps would skyrocket by switching from bulky, on-premise systems to these mobile solutions. Physicians could access information on their own time or socialize and get feedback on treatment best practices. In use cases where iPads have been deployed in health care organizations, physicians are proving that information quality and access to treatment information is drastically improved at the point of care. Consumerization of health care technology is on the horizon and an investment in adoption is critical for any real transformation.
  • Data is worthless when no one knows it’s there. There is a lot to be learned from business enterprises using cloud-based platforms like Salesforce. These marketing and sales executives have access to timely information, from multiple sources, about prospects and clients to better influence their decisions. If you’ve ever visited your regular doctor after being treated in a different emergency room, you know it’s likely your doctor doesn’t have any record of your emergency visit. If your physician had accurate and current information about every prescribed medication, hospital visit and surgery, he or she would be better equipped to make decisions about future treatment. Also, by tracking patient information in a central, private and controlled environment, doctors can collaborate about best treatment practices and symptom trends.

This year’s Dreamforce conference also featured a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) track that discussed how medical leadership is transforming the health care industry. During one of the sessions, UCSF was praised for applying features of the IT industry, such as business partnerships, to speed up the conversion of scientific discoveries into widely available health care products and services.  Laura Esserman, MD, MBA, director of the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center and professor of surgery and radiology, had one of my favorite quotes, “Our future depends on our ability to re-engineer our [health care] processes and collaborate.”

Whether by using iPads in treatment facilities or getting cloud-based platforms in medical offices, the health care industry is in desperate need of an IT overhaul.  The good news is we finally have the technology and applications to make it happen.

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