Let Patients Choose Their Own Adventure

Let Patients Choose Their Own Adventure

The publishers of Choose Your Own Adventure are suing Netflix for trademark infringement.In case you don't know, Black Mirror, a science fiction anthology series focused on the horrors of technology, was originally on British television.

Now, Netflix makes it directly for its streaming service. On Friday, Black Mirror released its latest installment, called Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Set in 1984, it's about a young programmer named Stefan working on a game adaptation of a famous "choose your own adventure" book. For those who aren't familiar, CYOA books (which really existed) are books where at certain points, the story asks you to make a decision. Something like, "If you pick up the stick, turn to page 49. If you leave the stick on the ground, turn to page 51." And you would follow the story from there. CYOA was an elementary, low-tech version of interactivity, long before today's complex open-world games were available.

This trend has been called the rise of “prosumerism”, which is defined by the consumer taking part in the design process of the services or products consumed. It can also be classified as blending the line between producer and consumer. Maybe it's time for patients to choose their own digital health engagement adventure.

In 1980, futurist Alvin Toffler published The Third Wave in which he described the evolution of agarian economies to industrial economies to post industrial economies (The Third Wave) and discussed the impact that transformation would have on society. Most of his predictions have come true, including the creation of what he termed "prosumers" i.e. outsourcing the production of a service to the consumer like self service check out at grocery stores, pumping your own gas and using ATM machines instead of tellers. 

Like the CYOA crowd, prosumers both produce and consume a product on the fly. As the ultimate extension of the customer discovery process, you allow customers to help design your product by giving them multiple choices about doing the job they want you to do. In addition, once they become your product partners, they are your advocates and help you grow your customer base.

The high level steps to leveraging the power of prosumers are as follows:

  1. Identify the key online influencers for your product, brand, business or industry (i.e., the prosumers).
  2. Acknowledge those people (e.g., send product samples, ask opinions, etc.).
  3. Join the online conversation where those people already spend time.
  4. Develop relationships with those people by interacting with them, providing useful information, and being accessible and human.
  5. Leverage the opportunities of the social web by creating your own branded destinations such as a blog, YouTube channel, Twitter profile, Facebook group or fan page, LinkedIn group, podcast, etc.

Other examples of prosumerism in sick care are DIY medicine and patient entrepreneurs. Not only that, but you can also create patient funded business models.

Democratizing care means patients will increasing vote with their clicks. Make sure you have a plan to win at the ballot box and don't leave any hanging chards.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs.

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  • Traci Nixon

    I'll never complain again

  • Kofi Owusu

    Some people consider it wrong because some of them have limited knowledge of what's best for them.

  • John Liew

    The future of healthcare should be overhauling what doctors are taught to help them make more informed decisions. We should also let patients have a say.

  • Scott Andrews

    Definitely one of your best articles !!

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org. He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at www.bridgehealth.com and www.cliexa.com and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at www.globalminded.org, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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