Blogging was where we began, and how we built our company so we have preserved this archive to show how our thinking developed over a decade of developing the use of social technology inside organisations

Web 2.0 and health care services


Next week, our friends at Demos and Patient Opinion are hosting an event at Guys Hospital in London (in this rather spooky place) about the likely impact of Web 2.0 and networked thinking on health care

We are witnessing an explosion in online and mobile communications activity. The trends in internet usage have been recently dubbed ‘Web 2.0’ because they allow us to realise the power of networks through new, easily accessible tools. There are big implications of seeing ourselves as a ‘network society’; we are re-shaping our understanding of user-based innovation in public services. Citizens increasingly expect the service experience to be about reciprocity and mutual problem-solving, not the passive acceptance of a set of generic solutions.

Paul from Patient Opinion will speak about the democratisation of voice and I will talk about the democratisation of data
For me, there is a crucial issue in there somewhere about the locus of citizen participation – where it happens, who sets the rules and who owns the data
In the UK, in the late New Labour period, I sense that the government is largely out of ideas when it comes to meaningful participation methods. There is clearly a desire to do consultation better, but this often comes up against an equally strong control and media/perception management reflex. Consultation takes place largely on the government’s own terms, on its own turf and within a presidential culture that celebrates its ability to ignore the strongly expressed views of millions of people as a sign of strong leadership. In short, I think the government’s position on consultation is rather confused, and I am intrigued to see who will pick up the slack and take this forward. It is certainly encouraging that the Cabinet Office in talking to people like MySociety to look at some aspects of this
What interests me, though, is participation rather than just consultation. Rather than just invite people in to participate in official processes, I would like to also see shared spaces between government and civil society where both sides can come together and participate in idea formulation, policy making, problem solving, etc, but on equal terms. A prerequisite for this is a clear position on ownership and control of data. There are many exciting things that can be done with data generated by citizen participation, such as aggregate-level anonymised data transformations and mashups, but we need to be clear who owns the data and what that means
Patient Opinion acts as an independent intermediary dedicated to helping people tell their stories of experiences with health care, and funnels the learning up from this anonymously to the services themselves to help the improvement process. Why does it work? Because that is their sole focus and they are free from commercial and/or political influence. Patients cannot have a meaningful conversation with the Department of Health because it is too big, and with the best will in the world, it is hardly independent. But PO is one small piece of the puzzle. I am hopeful that the ‘social web’ will help us build these new places and contexts where citizens and official bodies can come together on equal terms to co-create value and work together to solve problems of governance and public service provision, and I hope that official bodies can provide the underpinning data services to make this engagement worthwhile.
See also :

5 Responses to Web 2.0 and health care services

  1. By Jon Husband on April 21, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Hi, Lee. Looking forward to meeting you in the flesh in Copenhagen.
    Here’s a bit more about Web 2.0 and health care services (some or much of which you and your colleagues already know and understand).
    Just in case it is useful … via Dave Pollard’s blog

  2. By Lee Bryant on April 21, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Thanks Jon. Good to hear you will be rebooting. By coincidence, Dave published the piece you link to on the same day as I posted this, and then I also saw Ross Mayfield’s Wikis, Blogs and Health Care.

  3. By Rob on April 23, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Perhaps we need to sort out a new Magna Carta of e-democracy citizen’s rights.
    Have ordinary citizens the right to participate directly in Government policy formulation?
    Supporters of e-democracy, like myself, automatically assume yes.
    But how many MPs put on the spot would agree without heavy caveats?
    Perhaps we need to debate fundamental principles (an e-Magna Carta?) in the public forum.
    How about a Downing Street e-democracy principles forum?
    Let the people decide the rules.
    Hopefully, MPs and other interested parties will join in as ‘expert advisers’.

  4. By marcela machuca on July 12, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    Hi Mr Lee,
    I am a student of IM at LCC, went to your talk and became a true fan of the approach you give to social networking, I am doing a small research about “ethical consumers” related with social network, mostly because I am very interested on consumer information services.
    I found really interesting this topic of health and social network because we did a small project for orange related with food and mobile devices.
    Very naive from us was to believe that we could get the nutrition records of people through a NHS database, such a thing doesn’t exist here.
    Now doing my little research I’ve found this report from Mr. Mayo and Mr Steinberg and what I found amazing is how much they spend on analyzing information ownership as you mentioned before.
    for the matter of my research its very important because it not only involves government information but also corporate, and somehow as student is much more simpler to think on users and technical solutions but not the interests related to the implications that their implementation causes.
    hope to have some sort of sense on what I wrote.

  5. By Lee on July 21, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Hi Marcela,
    This whole issue of public, open data is a very interesting one and the Steinberg report you link to above is an important contribution to this debate.
    You are right, sometimes things can become more complicated than they seem in terms of data ownership, as you will see if you look around this blog, where we have discussed the issue several times.
    Glad you liked the talk! Hope to hear more about your work soon 🙂