I’ve never considered myself an expert in information technology, since IT is not my main focus — medical technology is. But I’ve long recognized that, if you can do it with a computer instead of by some arcane manual method (typing, trip to the library, long distance call to Australia), you will be better off. So I’ve always been inclined to consider the potential of new information technologies to get the job done.
I am also always interested in new technology, which is perhaps why, in my focus on medical technologies, I am always interested in looking at what is emerging in healthcare for its potential to change the nature of treatment, improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, open up treatment options for previously un(der)served patients and provide other benefits.
Over the last decade, I have seen healthcare continue to lag the rest of the world in its adoption of information technologes. Not that healthcare has entirely missed the boat, what with its ability to use methods like metanalyses of disparate clinical data to make new conclusions, systems like PACS for picture archiving in radiology (and now digital imaging), and other areas. But healthcare by nature is a conservative beast, demanding large scale analysis and peer-review (figuratively or literally) for any new option to be adopted, which makes it decidedly slow. (The FDA takes heat for being too slow to approve/deny new products, but then at the same time takes heat for being too cozy with industry — not to sidebar too much, but this illustrates that change is a slow process in healthcare.)
Then there is the other side of information technology in medical technology and that is in the personal, "how I get things done and what tools I use to do so" aspect of IT in medtech. This, too, has lagged the rest of the world, since people in this industry track the dynamics of the conservative, slow-to-adopt industry itself — physicians, healthcare systems, third party payers.
I don’t claim to be a leader in the use of information technology in my business, but I know where I am ahead. In the business of developing, researching, analyzing, writing, publishing, marketing and selling medical technology market analyses, and tracking its success, I have been driving my business on this leading edge and have witnessed and/or pushed the evolution of its mechanics from a very different business ten or even five years ago. The process of researching, writing and producing medtech market analyses has moved from one in which the majority of content had to be gleaned via onsite attendance at medical meetings and exhibit halls to one in which at least 80% of the content (including secondary data as well as primary data from interviews and other dialogues with industry participants) can be gained electronicall, which is critically important for a "global" analysis, especially if the start-to-finsh research process is to be limited to three months to make it a "current" analysis. I have seen and driven content delivery from printing and mailing of newsletters and reports in three ring binders mailed (3 to 10 days) to all parts of the globe to digital download electronic delivery as fast as the customer can check out from the online store. I have seen and driven marketing/promotion go from glossy brochures mailed shotgun-like to thousands of prospects to fax promotion, to targeted email prospect, to RSS and others.
Needless to say, email marketing/promotion has waned, and is virtually dead for all but reaching past customers and LinkedIn-like pre-screened prospects.
RSS (see my links at http://mediligence.com) opened up my head and made me think of "reach" differently and it became a means to get my message to an audience otherwise beseiged with spam in their inboxes. But, even though RSS is and will continue to be instrumental, it remains a static tool compared to social media and, in fact, serves a complementary role with social media.
Where things go from here is uncertain, but I know they will evolve. Currently, I am an avid follower and devotee of Twitter (http://twitter.com/medmarket), LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickdriscoll) and, to a lesser extent, Myspace (http://myspace.com/patrickmed).
Since I run my own business, and I am not directly connected to some big corporate infrastructure, I have a remoteness and independence that I both value (I never like following the crowd), but at the same time I don’t want to miss out on collective knowledge. As a result, I can’t imagine a better solution than social media.