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Healthcare Is Poised To Capitalize On Social Technologies

“The time has come to think seriously about enterprise social networking and consider its role within wider enterprise collaboration strategy", says Ovum, the global analyst firm. While 72 percent of companies use social technologies in some way, very few - according to the McKinsey Global Institute - have acheived the full potential benefit. In fact, McKinsey says the most powerful applications of social technologies in the global economy are largely untapped.

Based on estimates caclulated by the McKinsey Insitute, companies (particularly among healthcare providers, education and software) can raise the productivity of interaction workers—high-skill knowledge workers, by 20 to 25 percent if they fully implement social technologies across the enterprise.

McKinsey Global Institute Social Technology Value Capture

These technologies, which according to McKinsey's report create value by improving productivity across the value chain, could potentially contribute $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in annual value across key sectors.  However, the McKinsey report also goes on to state that to reap the full benefit of social technologies, organizations must transform their structures, processes, and cultures.  

When we combine McKinsey's report with a recent study pubished in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) and Accenture's 2012 Technology Vision, we can clearly see that medical providers and life science organizations are begining this transformation. If we accelerate the adoption of social tools across the healthcare industry, we can not only unlock much needed economic value but more importantly improve overall care and patient outcomes.  

The study published in JMIR shows that the use of social media applications may be seen as an efficient and effective method for physicians to keep up-to-date and to share newly acquired medical knowledge with other physicians within the medical community.  In fact, the study revealed that 57% of surveyed oncologists and primary care physicians believe that existing social tools help them improve the quality of medical care they provide. 

According to the Accenture study, social-driven information technology (IT) can foster stronger collaboration and forge links that result in innovation within a life sciences company.  Furthermore, since more than two-thirds of consumers in the United States seek medical advice via the Internet and social media, marketing teams are leveraging social tools to share early feedback on products with the R&D team.  Accenture's report goes on to recommend that life science companies embed social technologies across the organization and, to achieve the potential shared by McKinsey, that IT leaders should have a road map for social collaboration to increase adoption throughout the organization.

***Update*** The IBM Institute of Business Value just released a report, The Business of Social Business, that found 44% of the healthcare companies surveyed increased their investments in social business this year while 62 % were planning to increase their spending over the same period next year. According to IBM's study, 90% of Life Sciences organizations are using social business initiatives to better connect individuals with each other and to gain relevant insights while 2/3 of life science firms and 50% of healthcare organizations expect a rise in the use of social business approaches to enable more effective collaboration between partners/suppliers.

Joel Selzer

CEO - Ozmosis, Inc.

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