someone build this: Foursquare for Doctors

The genesis of this idea came out of the Healthcare track of the C2C US/Russia Civil Summit that I participated in in June 2010. During a discussion around the use of social games, Dr. O Marion Burton had a lightbulb moment. He piped up with, “oh wow! how cool would it be to show off that I used a cheaper med and had better results!” I have been taken with the idea since that conversation. Since I am not a coder, here is my plea: someone help build this.

Imagine a social site, a game of sorts, that rewards doctors and clinicians for improving outcomes, reducing costs and improving a patient’s experience. Docs are a competitive lot, they worked hard to get where they are and that kind of drive doesn’t end at graduation from medical school. “Dr. Smith just prescribed a less expensive alternative.” Oh yeah? “Well, my patient just got out of the hospital a day under the national average length of stay.” Can you see the peer pressure building?

Unfortunately this site doesn’t exist…yet. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right?

Have you checked out the Foursquare social network? It is a social game, you (or rather your GPS equipped mobile phone) tells Foursquare where you are and Foursquare tells your friends. If you are out on the town and want everyone to get together at your favorite watering hole, you log into Foursquare, update your location and blast a note to your friends.

The game part comes into play in two ways. First, if you check into a place multiple times you may become its “Mayor”. Savvy restaurants and businesses are rewarding mayors. In early 2010, Starbucks began offering Mayors a $1 discount off Frappuchinos. The second part of the game are the badges. You get badges for anything from checking in after 3:00AM (School Night) to checking in near the water (On a Boat). Think of them like Girl or Boy Scout merit badges, only, well, internetier.

Back to our medical example

Patient care is not a game and to create a social site that does not trivialize it takes tact. However, there is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. The Federal Government’s CMS website offers good data on how one hospital stacks up against another; and it is fairly easy to read….if you work in healthcare and spend your time digesting these kinds of things. I am not convinced that the average consumer wants to suss out the percentage difference between two providers (although the site does a nice job of using plain language).

What I am suggesting – no – begging someone to build is a site that is relevant to both clinicians and the public. Think: Foursquare for doctors. Write a script for a generic med three times, get a badge. Have a better than average outcome, get a badge. Become the mayor of wherever you attend CME courses. Doctors could follow each other and would see what their peers are up to. When Dr. Jones writes a generic script three times, Dr. Smith might ask him which med it was, what the differences are, why Dr. Jones prefers it, etc. The professional interaction does not have to happen on the site. The site is simply a way for docs to encourage each other to improve care. Patients can follow along too. You could visit your doctor’s page and see what badges they have. Looking for the best surgeon? Find the one with the “10 complication free surgeries” badge.

I’m not much of a coder and don’t have an ability to produce great design (although I did the fancy syringe badge for this post, pretty good huh?). So please… someone build this!

  • Jonathan Richman

    Doesn't this already exist in some ways already? Many doctors are part of managed care plans that reward/penalize them financially for doing these very things. Can't get much more of a motivation than cold, hard cash. Wish I could get that on foursquare.

  • bcarr

    Thinking aloud about this blog post: it sounds like Yelp might be a better model for what you're talking about, here. But I would think that legal obligations might outweigh the potential of such services.

    Also, wouldn't a 'ten complication free surgeries' badge be a violation of the confidentiality that medical professionals are required to abide by? Also, what defines a 'complication'? What if surgeries don't return the best result?

  • Christian Sinclair

    I think getting back to the basics of geo-location in Foursquare would be perfect for doctors. Imagine a nurse who could check and see that 'Dr. Sinclair just checked in on 5 South' Or I could see that 'Dr. Smith checked into OR 5' meaning I shouldn't page him out of surgery.

  • Nursing Resumes

    I think Foursquare would be perfect for doctors.

  • Nick

    Thanks Alina, i agree!

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