Clinical Groupware

Last week I caught up with David Kibbe, one of the pioneers of personal health records. As usual I learned a lot from him. One idea that stuck with me is further explained in his blog post about clinical groupware. Here is the introduction:

What would you call health care software that:

  • Is Web-based and networkable, therefore highly scalable and inexpensive to purchase and use;
  • Provides a ‘unified view’ of a patient from multiple sources of data and information;
  • Is designed to be used interactively – by providers and patients alike – to coordinate care and create continuity;
  • Offers evidence-based guidance and coaching, personalized by access to a person’s health data as it changes;
  • Collects, for analysis and reporting, quality and performance measures as the routine by-product of its normal daily use;
  • Aims to provide patients and their providers with a collaborative workflow platform for decision support; and
  • Creates a care plan for each individual and then monitors the progress of each patient and provider in meeting the goals of that plan?

I call this Clinical Groupware.  The term captures the basic notion that the primary purpose for using these IT systems is to improve clinical care through communications and coordination involving a team of people, the patient included.  And in a manner that fosters accountability in terms of quality and cost.

David nicely summarized the way I wish all clinical software worked. Lightweight, collaborative and useful rather than the antonyms that characterise most existing software that hospitals buy. I created a page about clinical groupware on the PHR wiki to start listing companies that fit these criteria. As we launch, I hope that our software will earn its place in that list.

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