Next Wave Connect promises to provide a mix of public communities and private communities, which might be limited to employees of a single healthcare system or specialists in a given area. In other words, its goal is to be both an enterprise social network for discussing private business and a peer community that spans the industry.
Next Wave Connect CEO Drex DeFord said the social community was custom designed to meet the unique needs of the healthcare industry. "This is not just about an organization connecting with itself but also providing the ability to connect with other healthcare organizations and collaborate with them, or connect with vendors and suppliers. It's a place to collaborate and work on best practices and solutions," he said.
[ Doctors already use social networks. Read more: Doctors Use Social For Continuous Medical Education. ]
Darren Dworkin, CIO at Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, said he has been working with Next Wave Connect to design and prototype the social site, which he believes has great potential -- although it's too early for him to vouch for it delivering on that potential.
"It's been a challenge for us to figure out the best way for us to use social networking, especially within healthcare," he said. He particularly likes the focus on "bringing together peers from outside of one's own institution." Being able to handle internal collaboration on the same platform is even better, he said.
Dworkin said he plans to use the platform initially for collaboration within his IT team and with IT organizations at other hospitals and healthcare systems. The platform would be worth participating in if bringing together healthcare IT teams from different organizations were all it accomplished, he said.
Beyond that, he hopes to get the users of health IT systems including doctors and nurses involved in giving feedback through the system. In the best-case scenario, use of the social platform would take root in other parts of the organization as a tool for discussing and collaborating on issues that might have nothing to do with IT.