Mimicry as Innovation

We all want innovation in Healthcare.

Innovation in medical devices.

Innovation in reimbursement.

Innovation in mobile applications.

Innovation in clinical collaboration.

Yes, innovation is needed.

Not always though.

Mimicry has its powers to change the world too.

Easy to forget the great things that work eternally.

Mimicry of expert nursing.

Mimicry of clear communications.

Mimicry of proper hand-washing technique.

Mimicry of of biological processes.

Mimicry of moral leadership.

We all need mimicry in Healthcare.

In a time when the horizon of technological emergence brightens, it’s easy for good mimicry to fall into the shadows.

Mimicry can be just as innovative as innovation.

Phil Baumann



Band-aid Solutions for Healthcare Problems

“Let’s not put band-aids to our problems.” It’s a great way of saying: don’t use short-cuts when you have to cover long distances.

But there is another way to use the metaphor of the band-aid: develop ingenious, simple solutions that can cover a wide area of deployment. We take the band-aid for granted today. But a century ago nobody heard of one – it had to be specifically invented.

There are so many problems to solve in Healthcare. How many of them are solvable by band-aids? Are we trying too hard? Are we investing too much time looking for big solutions to big problems at the expense of being inventive at the small scale?

This week is SXSW (I know, regular readers think I hate on it – which isn’t true), but what if we had an idea bank where nurses, physicians, engineers, educators, investors, small and large enterprises….anybody who could deposit problems and withdraw solutions?

Or, what if we had small, local idea banks which – over time – could develop networks with each other, seeking system-wide connections to common problems?

I don’t know if something like what I have in mind has been done. But I believe that we may need to re-think Intellectual Property rights – their history, purpose and proper place.

Technological innovation moves at such a rapid pace these days, that traditional IP models may hold us back. An alternative model may speed up the development of band-aid solutions – and actually create new markets and incentives and rewards for all involved: think interest earned, interest paid on deposits and withdrawals.

So the next time someone says “Let’s not put a band-aid to the problem”, challenge her and say: “Hmm, actually a band-aid just might work – let’s see if we can fine one”.

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – Newsletter




Exciting Opportunities in Healthcare Social Media Open Now!

Here are a few of the exciting opportunities that are currently wide open for ambitious and talented applicants:

  • Clinical Research
  • Provider Collaboration
  • Curation of Evidence-Based Content
  • Patient Customer Service


As more and more people tell their stories, converse with others and emit data about their lives, the pool of information pertinent to clinical research will continue to swell.

Developing ways of finding and organizing the data will provide enormous value to researchers, from seeking participants to monitoring the wild. I’m pretty sure that there a few enterprises willing to pay for these kinds of services.


In practice, physicians and nurses can’t spend their day on Twitter and Facebook and blogs and forums.

But: they do need productive and reliable ways of collaborating on cases; alerting each other to critical needs; monitoring patient data and progress; coordinating care; and sharing experiences and knowledge and wisdom.

Social media certainly provide possible to solutions to these problems. But Twitter and Facebook aren’t the right places to look.

iMedExchange offers a view of what’s possible.

New kinds of social media will need to be developed. For more on what this means, read Instant Is Not Real-Time.


The amount of data and information on the Web is virtually infinite. Worse, the amount of bad data and information probably exceeds the good.

How to provide the best information at the right time? In a world where information speeds like lightening and attention spans are straining, it will become critical that platforms are developed which deliver the right information at the right time in the right context.

The future of content opportunities lies in curation. I’d argue that Curators will be among the new kings and queens of the Web. Opportunities for healthcare are out there for someone to fill.


Patients want connection and service and provider availability.

The continuum of care is vast. Competent healthcare doesn’t start in the ER. It starts at home.

Building platforms that enable patients and providers to connect in safe and mutually-agreeable ways is a huge gaping opportunity for developers.

Facebook and Twitter weren’t designed with healthcare in mind.

Currently, there’s all sorts of talk on how to use these media in provider-patient relations. But the possibilities are constrained by the designs of these platforms. Facebook for example is such an unstable and unpredictable platform, that providers are understandably nervous in incorporating them into their practice.

Not to mention, the issue of boundaries has yet to be worked out. New kinds of social platforms that take account of the healthcare ramifications of social relations from the start will go a long way toward getting buy-in from providers. Hello Health is a great start but there’s still opportunity for development.


Years ago when I started thinking about the possibilities of repurposing emerging media into health care, I met a lot of resistance from colleagues and hospital administrators. Back then, talking about healthcare and social media was a lonely business. #HCSM and #HCSMEU and #RNCHAT weren’t around.

I understood: very few people in healthcare even heard about Twitter or RSS or any of this other nonsense (I use that word affectionately). But I also could palpably feel a sense of resistance – in fact, in some case I was met with something along the lines of outright anger. Crazy, huh?

But now, it’s become obvious that we are becoming increasingly connected and these media are staples of contemporary communications.

There’s so much that we can do with Technology. But we also need Art. Art gives us fresh perspective and reminds us of what we’re capable of.

Just like Health, Creativity is Social.

It can also be financially rewarding. 🙂



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