Technology Mediated Collaborations in Healthcare and Wellness Management Minitrack

Today all countries (developed, developing, and emerging) are faced with exponentially increasing costs for healthcare delivery coupled with challenges of changing demographics as well as an increase in chronic diseases. There is a growing need to deliver more effective and efficient healthcare. To address this situation we are witnessing the application of various technology solutions to support superior healthcare delivery and specifically the universal embracement of e-health. These solutions include incorporation of web based solutions be it as a EMR, HER or PHR as well as a plethora of apps to support monitoring and management of acute and chronic diseases. Further we are seeing the growth of Web 2.0 initiatives to support consumer healthcare initiatives such as web sites including patients like me which also serve to make patients more empowered in their own healthcare and wellbeing. A unifying factor of all these applications is of course collaboration technologies that enable and facilitate all these possibilities.

In order to achieve successful and superior healthcare delivery in such an e-health context it is necessary to consider people, process and technology issues. To do this in a systematic and holistic fashion we proffer an ontological framework to encapsulate and unify all critical interactions between and within the web of players in e-health. The five primary stakeholders in healthcare: researchers, clinicians, nurses, patients, and administrators form the basis of any partnership in health care. They are listed under the two partnership sub-dimensions. Software Agents/Bots which are playing an increasing independent role in the delivery of healthcare have been added to the list of partners. A partnership may be between two researchers, a researcher and a clinician, a patient and a nurse, etc. These dyads are summarized by the two columns under partners. There may also be triadic and higher order partnerships among these partners.

The partnerships may be based on an exchange of data, analysis, diagnosis, or treatment singly or in combination. These are listed under the content dimension of the framework. Thus collaboration between two researchers may use data, between a patient and a nurse may be for diagnosis or treatment, and so on.

The Media for partnership may be Personal, Social, Mass, or Institutional. The framework lists the key media in healthcare in each of the categories. Thus, for example, researchers may exchange analysis via personal media, patients may exchange treatments via social media, and clinicians and administrators may exchange data via institutional media.

The purpose of the collaboration may be care, research, administration, education or a combination of the four. These are listed under the purpose dimension of the ontology. Thus collaboration between two researchers using data may be for research, and between a patient and a clinician may be for diagnosis for care.

In the above framework, there are a very large number of basic types of collaborations one can consider in healthcare. The number will change if the dimensions and categories are modified. In a practical context multiple combinations will likely coexist. A clinician-patient collaboration using data via individual media for care may be supplemented by a nurse-patient collaboration using social media for education.

Technology’s impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of these collaborations will be determined by the architecture of the technology, the systems developed around it, and the strategy for implementing it. The efficacy of the architecture will determine the efficacy of the system, and the efficacy of the system will determine the efficacy of the strategy. Thus the three categories under the technology dimension in the framework.

The framework helps organize the pieces of the puzzle, synthesizing what is known, determining the gaps, and directing future research on the topic. We invite papers focusing any one or many of the innumerable combinations in the framework. We welcome papers which address the state-of-the-art, state-of-the-need, and the state-of-the-practice of these combinations. We solicit papers from a variety of researchers studying these types of collaborations. Further, selected papers from this minitrack will be published in a special issue in Heath and Technology by Springer.

Minitrack Co-Chairs:

Souren Paul (Primary Contact)
Nova Southeastern University

Arkalgud Ramaprasad
University of Illinois at Chicago

Nilmini Wickramasinghe
Deakin University, Australia

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