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2/4/2013
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Will Doctors Embrace Tibbr Enterprise Social Networking Platform?

Social media tool draws on Facebook-style features to streamline communication and do away with paper processes.

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There's no denying the appeal of Facebook -- with more than a billion users worldwide, the social network has revolutionized communication. Now Tibco is testing whether doctors will use social functions for electronic health record collaboration, teaming with iHealth Exchange to offer its Tibbr enterprise social networking platform in a healthcare setting for the first time.

iHealth Exchange is a health information exchange that lets 12,500 Houston-area doctors make referrals and share health record information.

Too many healthcare records still are faxed between providers despite the existence of electronic records, and attempts to replace that practice with portals haven't done much to change the situation, said Ram Menon, president of social computing at Tibco, in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. "There's been little innovation at the point of service in healthcare -- the point of service still lives in the 80s," Menon said.

iHealth Exchange has been able to replace its paper and fax workflow with the Tibbr platform, letting providers communicate in real time. Enterprise social collaboration tools are "a new platform to deliver modern care," iHealth Exchange CEO Chris Stephens said in a statement, describing information exchange as one of the biggest challenges in healthcare.

[ For another point of view on health IT, read Why Personal Health Records Have Flopped.]

Menon said Tibbr's creation stemmed from the idea that, in the working world, social collaboration platforms need to allow more than "like" and "share" activity; people take action and make decisions, such as approving a purchase order, forwarding an invoice or reviewing and approving a report. "If a social network is going to work, it has to be useful and deliver ROI in terms of collaboration," he said. "We have to bring the information from your transaction systems to your wall."

Tibbr acts similarly to Facebook with its use of a wall -- what Menon called "one seminal way to aggregate information." Physician users of the platform, for example, log in to the tool and see referrals and similar information on this wall. The platform also lets users follow people, subjects or "machines," which, according to Menon, could be supply-chain inventory, patient information, approval and other workflows. The platform integrates into an electronic health record and is HIPAA compliant, Menon said. Users can also restrict who -- doctors, specialists or nurses -- sees what.

Tibco's partnership with iHealth brings it healthcare expertise. "We understand social, and they understand all the requirements around Meaningful Use, [health information exchange] and being a neutral stakeholder," said Menon. "They understand how to manage communication between doctors, patients and payers securely."

Tibbr is available on mobile devices using a Wi-Fi connection and a browser. After four months of use by Houston doctors, "we're seeing how it goes," Menon said. "We're doing this at the user level, so it's important to make sure it's not only me saying it's easy to use, but users like it too." Feedback so far has been promising, Menon said.

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