Saturday, October 18, 2008

Health Care Industry Begins To Embrace Open Source, Web 2.0

The health care industry slowly is beginning to embrace Web 2.0 and open source technology through the use of social networking Web sites and online personal health record tools, Newsweek reports.

Some experts argue that "if transparency and openness can work wonders for software," it also could benefit the health care industry, according to Newsweek. A growing number of health care providers say that making patients' health care information readily available to family, friends and physicians could boost the quality of care.

However, there are several concerns about sharing personal health data, including the risk of health plans using that data to deny coverage or employers using the information to discriminate against job applicants.

Peter Neupert -- a vice president at Microsoft and head of the company's health-related products -- said, "On the one hand, you care a lot about the privacy of health information," adding, "But in order to make it valuable, you have to be able to share."

Neupert said that people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, could benefit from sharing their health information. "The concept of health is a social concept," he said.

Sharing health care experiences, such as treatments and drug side effects, also could benefit researchers, Newsweek reports.

James Heywood, co-founder and chair of the social networking Web site "", said, "In the end, it's the same as open-source software," adding, "If you can see all the information, you can correct the errors" (Sheridan, Newsweek, 10/16).

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