Report: Social networking can improve care, lower costs

By Molly Merrill
09:47 AM

The use of social networking in healthcare is fostering greater online collaboration that can lead to improved health outcomes and drive down costs, according to a new report from the Healthcare Performance Management (HPM) Institute.

The report, titled HPM in the Era of Twitter: Harnessing the Social Networking Phenomenon, examines how social media and other Health 2.0 initiatives are transforming the healthcare marketplace and how organizations can leverage the power of HPM technology to connect plan sponsors, members and the provider community in a cost-efficient interactive healthcare system.

The report says online collaboration is helping to optimize investments in wellness programs, chronic disease management and other issues that affect cost, productivity and employee health.

"Internet-enabled communities of patients and providers are coming together to communicate and collaborate," explains Brian Klepper, PhD, healthcare analyst and consultant with San Francisco-based Health 2.0 Advisors. "In so doing, these virtual communities are reshaping the way that healthcare is delivered and consumed," he says.
HPM technology can provide health plan sponsors with the ability to receive and evaluate medical and pharmacy claims data in a HIPAA-compliant manner, allowing companies to better forecast and manage risk. When this is combined with an online healthcare social networking environment through which employees may communicate securely with all their care providers, employers are able to save themselves – and their employees –significant amounts of money while improving the health of plan members, according to the report.
"Technology providers and healthcare performance management companies recognize the transformational capability of these trends and are working to support them," says Henry Cha, CEO of Healthcare Interactive, an Edina, Minn.-based provider of education training programs.
HPM Institute is a research and education organization dedicated to promoting the use of business technology and management principles that deliver better and more cost-effective healthcare benefits for employers who cover their employees.

To access the full report click here.