Health inSite: Consumer-directed Healthcare Part IV


This is part IV in a four part series. Links for Part I, Part II, and Part III

There are numerous components that the sharing economy and new applications have developed that will likely make an impact on healthcare moving forward.

Two-step verification

One major integration point that social networks have started to implement is that of two-step verification. This allows for identifying an entry-point for any given social network so that if someone attempts to access your profile from a device that is not recognized there is a second layer of security. In the age of mobile, this has been helpful in beginning to lock down the username/password issue of the past. But there is more needed from this methodology. One day, either through bio-markers or technology insertion, such two-step verification might further button down security related to social networks.

Social sign-on

There are a number of sites that are now beginning to rely on social sign-on where an OAuth call brings over the credentials of a particular user’s information from a major social network to bypass a number of the traditional sign-up information needed to create a new user, creating a “virtual passport.” This usually passes a limited amount of information between the two sites. Some sites, such as Tinder, might bring over your friend list and interests, where other sites may bring over only your identifying account from Facebook. This level of information sharing enables the user to activate the social network to act like a passport for accessing different sites across the web.


Once credentialing information has been brought into the secondary system such as through the ‘social sign-on’ system, it is combined with information related directly to the application into which you ported your ‘passport’ information. However, having a “passport” doesn’t guarantee two way communication, which is the goal. A passport gets you into a country but doesn’t necessarily allow for your travel itinerary to be shared with your country of origin. It affords access to local resources without necessarily communicating back to the issuing authority. As a result, your local identity can be managed locally, only. Which means that while those external credentials can be managed by the external authority, local, additional data (credentials) can be managed within the new authority.

Identity management

But, as a user accesses, and enables that passport to be used across the web, a composite identity can be realized through the passport. Similarly to the stamps that end up in your passport, a comprehensive view of the “travels” you acquire while moving through the social web can be realized. With secure technologies and stronger information security protocols through these passport services, a comprehensive yet protective identity can be managed across the social web.

Essentially, this allows for a deeper sense of security in identity. If you’ve ever tried to apply for a birth certificate, you know that an insane amount of information is collected by a host of agencies and coordinated to test for the authenticity of the person requesting the information. Similarly, a social footprint through the social web’s passport allows for a full, historical picture that can act in much the same way as a credit score or an issuing agency for birth certificates. So long as users can help to manage the information related to that social passport.

Social network analysis

Another opportunity that using these social platforms for credentialing affords is bringing over the social structure information from the network into another platform. Dating sites like Tinder and Hinge have already made strides in trying to develop ways of identifying social connections and even likelihood of compatibility of matches through their apps by analyzing this information. Deeper forms of social network analysis could make possible analysis into what that social network might do once it enters into a third-party application.

Friends of Friends

A study into Social Network Analysis (SNA) quite quickly reveals the possibility of using the information related to hubs, links, nodes, and clusters for the dissemination (or potential, thereof) information with a certain amount of predictability. We in healthcare should look at this as the Holy Grail for culture change and treatment adherence. By enabling that social network, inherent to an already existing system of networks like Facebook, means that information doesn’t have to be populated from the healthcare side. Attempts to do so in the past have been seriously lacking in critical mass. And looking at studies like the Framingham study point to how important our social networks really are in our health behaviors, so healthcare needs to identify a way of making this a reality.

Influencers, mavens, and hubs

But even without the nebulous interaction points and influences in any given social network, by processing the data from networks like Facebook as to link influence and the flow of information and influence, it would be possible with a fairly limited amount of that information coming into a third-party application to reasonably predict these patterns of influence and identify influencers, mavens, and hubs within geographic, familial, and even professional networks.

Social integration for experience-sharing

All of this social integration has value for both the system attempting to impact health behavior and outcomes, but also to increase the overall shared experience of the users as they are able to interact with one another around those behaviors, as well as their personal experience in a given system – such as the healthcare system. Further, those experiences would continue to impact the reevaluation of that experience by members as they share those experiences. Social integration is also becoming a necessary reality to create a consumer experience in competition with the rest of the world that patient is experiencing.

Mutual rating networks

Even further, by bringing the data from a social network into a third-party application for healthcare and allowing for that data to be combined with new data derived by the system’s application, a seemingly private interaction currency could allow for consumers to rate the outcome and behavior experiences they have, their connections have, and they have with their attending providers as well as other members of the healthcare system (the current other 2 Ps in the healthcare system – payer and purchaser). In the healthcare system, this means monitoring of transactions to identify opportunities for improved patient care.

Big data

This all leads to the combination of social, physical, occupational, emotional, intellectual, financial, and possibly environmental and spiritual data for a composite view of the current, past, and future version of ourselves as we actively engage and interact with the healthcare system. This, folks, is what Big Data is all about. It’s not silos or collecting all the information into a repository, but the opportunities inherent in bringing together, ad hoc, the disparate pieces of data so that recombining that data results in insights into helping people. It’s why we get up in the morning at my company: “to save lives and influence the course of human events.”


What I’m suggesting is that there is a coming Uber-ification of healthcare that is the next step in the sharing economy’s development. It’s not certain to me how that shift is going to occur and certainly the healthcare system is significantly more regulated by government, more powerful than taxi companies, more necessary in the daily lives of individuals than most of the ways that the companies we identify as disrupting traditional markets. But I believe it’s coming regardless. We will see consumer-directed healthcare in the coming years become more commonplace with patients that are empowered to take control of their health and wellbeing. The question is only how, and how is the healthcare system preparing for the peak that we’re all approaching that is a consumer-directed healthcare system.


4 thoughts on “Health inSite: Consumer-directed Healthcare Part IV

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