Medicine 2.0

I was reading an editorial in the recent Junior Doctor magazine (my fiance is a doctor…) and was struck by the similarities of how the web is changing medicine and how it is changing business. The editorial noted the tendency toward self diagnosis (Google) and self treatment (eBay) given the wealth of information readily available on the Internet, and questioned the future role of Doctors for ‘simple’ conditions. But this quotation struck me:

“we’ve become brokers and project managers arranging services our client is requesting”

This sounded rather familiar – so I dug out “the Bible” (Wikinomics) and found something similar:

“companies are focused a new challenge as well: managing an increasingly seamless and supple fusion of design and development expertise from multiple suppliers, partners, and customers in global design and process collaborations.”

OK – so the editorial from Junior Doctor is slightly more pithy, there is definitely a parallel here. Large organisations such as Boeing and BMW are no longer engineering firms, rather they project manage a collaborative process across multiple companies that brings their product to life. They have decided to focus on being the best at what their customers value (in BMW’s case the driving experience, which is more about the software components of the car rather than efficient engine engineering). The same applies to Doctors. Patients will not value their diagnoses and remedies for ailments for which Google can provide the answers and eBay the drugs. Therefore Doctors end up project managing this area of care rather than adding value.

Leaving the question of the reliability and danger of self diagnosing aside, this is not necessarily a bad thing. If Doctors are not tied up dealing with ‘simple’ ailments presumably they will have more time to fix the ‘complex’ ones – just as how BMW is able to focus more on their drivers’ experience if they outsource the more traditional engineering R&D.

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