Sunday, March 20, 2011

Smartphones transform medical practice as doctors create virtual collaborative groups - are there lessons here for lawyers?

The BNA Electronic Commerce & Law Report (subscription only) has a very interesting article about the ways in which mobile technology is transforming how doctors work. (We'd previously blogged about how physicians are beginning to use artificial intelligence software to diagnose patients and the implications for A.I. applications in legal practice). One of the ways that smartphones are changing medical practice is that they allow doctors to form online collaborative groups to problem-solve patient medical issues. Are there any lessons here for how lawyers might form virtual law firms to solve client problems? Below is an excerpt of the article. If your interested in reading more, here's the cite: 16 Electron. Comm. L. R. 118 (January 19, 2011).

A recent survey of primary care clinicians showed that “64% of physicians report owning a smartphone and those using their smartphone daily for clinical tasks are more likely to be active, peer influencers.”  “By 2012, all physicians will walk around with a stethoscope and a smart mobile device, and there will be very few professional activities that physicians won't be doing on their handhelds. Physicians will be going online first for the majority of their professional needs and will be regularly pulling online resources into patient consultations,” said Monique Levy, senior director of research at Manhattan Research.  

. . . .

There are a multitude of drivers underlying clinicians' swift embrace of smartphones. Physicians initially followed their patients to the Web as the explosion of health information created transparency, confusion, and self-diagnosing. Further, physicians realized their reputations were being affected in some cases by Web chatter, and that they could gain some control by entering these discussions.

Likely more critical factors in attracting clinician interest include the technology's potency for improving patient care and providing new ways of interacting with peers and patients, for example, collaborative, Health 2.0 tools. Research by Google and Manhattan Research found that the majority of physician smartphone users consider the device “essential to their practice.”

. . . .

Further advancing the medical knowledge pool are the “collective intelligence” networks represented by physician online communities. These collaborative, virtual brains can “think” in advanced ways, as discussed in books such as “The Wisdom of the Crowds,”  and harnessed by companies like Innocentive. In an article in Computer, M.C. Domingo describes the potency of this model in medicine:

“In a physician social network, physicians exchange views about drugs, devices, and treatment options and can use their knowledge from daily practice to ask and answer specific clinical questions that are not obvious in the medical literature. The premise is that gathering and sharing information about new clinical findings, drug treatments, and patient care can bring unprecedented benefits to the medical community: physicians can better solve problems, collaborate on difficult cases, and predict future events through a network than they could individually or even in a small group.”

(jbl).

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