It felt like the early days of the Internet, when a bunch of seemingly delirious companies were all hyped up about something called "eCommerce" -- the then-stunning concept that people might actually conduct end-to-end shopping transactions on the Net, from browsing products to paying and delivery. Who would've thought?
So if some of the new stuff debuted at yesterday's forward-looking Health 2.0 conference sounds dubious to you now, take a deep breath and keep an open mind. There is now officially no doubt that HEALTH is the one of the hottest new business frontiers. Watch this high-impact opening video created for the conference to get a feel for the vibe of it all:
* ICYou.com -- a new video player aspiring to become the "YouTube of Healthcare." They've posted a series of interviews from the conference, including one of me, but unfortunately the viewing quality is currently pretty hiccup-ey, at least this morning.
* Xoova.com -- an "online marketplace for medical services" that allows you to search for local doctors and clinics by name, by treatment/condition, or by health plan all over the US. Just for fun I searched for "diabetes" in San Francisco, CA, and nothing came up. OK, so it's still very new and semi-experimental at the moment (?).
* Vimo.com -- like Shopping.com for health services. You can comparison-shop health plans, doctors and dentists, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and much more. Wow.
* ReliefInsite.com -- "online pain management services." A secure and private place to keep a diary you can share with your doctor.
* MEDgle.com -- the name kind of says it all... but no, not really. You click on various parts of the human body to describe your symptoms, and then search for your potential ailment. Visual fun for cyber-chondriacs?
* Curbside.MD -- new health search engine that uses "natural language queries." In other words, you can type in "I'm a 32-yr-old diabetic with glaucoma and heart burn" and it will spit out a "visual diagnosis" including "guidelines and recommendations," clinical outcomes (research results), and dozens of other articles to review. The more detail you plug in, the better, they tell me.
* HealthCare.com -- a very big URL, that seems for the moment to be attempting an "everything for everyone" approach to health on the web. Surely they will narrow their focus soon.
* RealAge.com -- a place to input your health specs and assess yourself with a "health score." Participants suggested something like this as a sort of "FICO (credit) score for your health," in which you get paid for a higher score. And if your doctor doesn't help you improve your score, you change doctors (!)
* PeerClip -- a "social bookmarking tool" for physicians, allowing them to store and share favorite online resources, articles, podcasts, videos and more. The site supposedly "enhances the value for busy physicians." And while I like idea of doctors being Internet-savvy and up-to-date, I sure hope my doc won't be spending too much time playing with PeerClip while (s)he could be spending time with me :)
* DoubleCheckMD.com -- a neat place to check for those nasty drug interactions before they hit (!)
* BodyMaps.org -- another very neat site that allows you to take a detailed graphical tour of the human body. Kind of like Google Earth for human anatomy.
* iMedix.com -- a place to chat in real-time with other patients experiencing the same things you are. Will also include information resources, TBD.
"The reimbursement system in this country is broken... Healthcare is a giant hairball" -- from Wayne Gattinella, CEO of WebMD (originally from Jack Valancy ?).
"Healthcare in the US is more like that calcified thing at the bottom of the drain clogging it up. We need to chip away at it" -- from Esther Dyson, digital technology investor and very nearly legend in her own right.
"People have better experiences if they understand more about their care, have better relationships with their providers and a sense of community... This is not a brand new thing, but Health 2.0 tools make it easier" -- from conference organizer Matthew Holt, quoted in today's San Jose Mercury News.
Viva la New Frontier!