Next Wave Connect has potential to become the go-to professional social network for the healthcare industry, says Darren Dworkin, CIO of Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles.
CEO DeFord stressed his desire to attract users from throughout the healthcare organization; he envisions it even as a platform for discussing business issues such as revenue cycle management or cardiology. There are other online communities that target specific constituencies, such as Sermo for doctors, but Next Wave Connect aims to be multi-disciplinary. That means it could be a good place for medical, financial and technical healthcare executives and workers to discuss big-impact issues, such as the introduction of the ICD-10 medical coding requirements scheduled for next year.
At the same time that he emphasizes this breadth, DeFord chose to announce the platform going live at the annual conference of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) in Scottsdale, Ariz., and healthcare IT is clearly one of the first communities the site wants to cater to. DeFord previously was a CIO for several healthcare organizations, including Steward Health Care LLC and Seattle Children's Hospital.
Seattle Children's Hospital is one of the early users of Next Wave Connect, along with Cedars-Sinai, Rush University Medical Center and Sharp HealthCare. DeFord said 27 healthcare systems have either signed up or are in the process of signing up, representing about 425 hospitals.
Next Wave Connect is a venture of Next Wave Health, an investment firm that backs technology startups. The underlying software development is being handled by Smart Social Media, another Next Wave Health venture organized to potentially sell the software platform into other markets -- although so far, it's really focused on supporting Next Wave Connect. Next Wave Health formed the Smart Social Media business in September after purchasing an existing social media platform, OneXPage, from Digiapolis, Inc.
The social network has a ways to go. When an InformationWeek reporter went through the online registration process Tuesday, the site was displaying placeholder text on the confirmation page, and the website in general looked sketchy and underdeveloped.
Cedars-Sinai's Dworkin predicted it will start to look more interesting once more people sign up. "If you were the only person on Facebook, it could look a little boring," he said. He said he's encouraged that a number of sizable health systems have committed to signing up, but admitted that if employees within those organizations don't become active users, "it will just be another in a long list of what could have been cool ideas." He thinks there's a strong chance the site will get traction for the healthcare IT community at a minimum. "They've got a strong management team that knows a lot of people, so I think it will happen," he said.
Next Wave Connect offers a free account for basic access or a paid individual membership for $250 per year. DeFord said he is primarily marketing to healthcare systems who will enroll employees on an enterprise basis.