Look at how Anna, 12, interacts with her world. She and her cohort are the patients (and the doctors) of the future.

(click any image to see it larger) This is Anna, she’s 12 years old, and I got to meet her because her mother is Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, author of one of my favorite heatlh care blogs, Health Populi, and came to DC and wondered if I might walk to meet them today, at my favorite Smithsonian museum. Twist my arm on many levels…

Those of you who are parents (or near Anna’s age) might not think this observation is that unique, so excuse my lateness to the game, but look at how Anna is interacting with the art in the museum. When we came to the exhibit she was interested in, she immediately grabbed her cell phone camera and started taking pictures. I asked Jane if she would look at them later and said she absolutely would. “It’s her scrapbook,” Jane said.

Anna goes to a school where she’s required to write a blog post every day, covering her assigned work, with one “free day,” each week, where she and her fellow students can write about whatever they want.

In Anna’s case, instead of passively taking in the art, she immediately begins creating content with it. And this is what she is being trained to do every day at school. What will Anna expect when she is 18 from her health care system? If Anna decides to train to be a physician, what will she expect from the systems (electronic and not) that are set up to enable her to care for patients?

In 2003, it was a pretty amazing thing to have a tethered PHR in place, for patients to see their health information on line. In ushering this new world, I could be heard to say to fellow physicians, “…and patients’ e-mail messages are limited to 3,000 characters, and no attachments!”

It’s very possible that Anna and her cohort won’t be looking to provide and receive care in systems that limit how much content patients can contribute to their health care experience. They may expect just the opposite, and want that the systems that support them help them manage this intelligently.

This example should give us some energy to think about really supporting participation in Health 2.0, the real thing.

With thanks to Jane and Anna for being great teachers, on and off stage. Come back to Washington anytime!


> instead of passively taking in the art,

> she immediately begins creating content with it.

Stupendous! More more!

What a great thing, requiring students to write a blog post daily. Wakes one up to the content all around us (aka life worth noticing!)

Thanks for sharing the story Ted. Great points. We can't imagine how our children will be interacting with technology 5, 10 or more years from now.

I've had similar experiences with my 8 year old. This summer he got interested in blogging as a result of my blog. Amazing how quickly he picked up on how to use it as a tool in his world. First he created a Pokemon blog to find and store all his favorite Pokemon photos and links. He then created a personal blog for everyday thoughts, photos, etc. He goes to a local Montessori and is sharing some of what he posts at school. I can't imagine what his world will be like by age 18.

Also, like Anna I find myself capturing art, music, etc. more and more with my phone and posting it up on Facebook, etc. My family and I went to an art opening Friday and I found myself capturing a photo of one of my favorite WV artists, Charley Hamilton and posting up to Facebook to share. Last night I was capturing photos from the NewSong finals (http://www.newsongfestival.com/) and posting them up. By the way – check out DC native Maureen Andary if you get a chance – she one one of the finalists).

As younger and younger social media aficionados like Anna continue to embrace Health 2.0, its evolution is destined to skyrocket… and much more quickly than anyone could have predicted even a year ago.

As a generation grows up that knows how NOT difficult it is to mash content together, I expect there'll be very little tolerance for today's dominant healthcare reality of "Sorry, no we can't move your data around." There are still IT people who try to explain to us "That's not how computers work."

The field is just wide open for disruption by vendors and open source communities who "get it." They'll be able to run the length of the football field before the leviathans realize something's happening.

I humbly and tentatively propose (because I ain't done studying) that the solution to many ills is to give up on any thought of (or even desire for) keeping someone as a customer/patient, and to focus all one's efforts on being of service to the customer/patient.

Service will beget retention, and even if it doesn't, the priority will still be service, and that's a good thing.

Ted Eytan, MD