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Content silos: deconstruction in action?
Friday, 11th November 2011
I was speaking recently at Internet Librarian 2011 about my pet peeve - content silos and empire building, duplication of effort, time and money and the poor outcomes it can ultimately have for the information user for decision making. However I think we are beginning to see the buds of change, especially in the healthcare sector.
One of the most prolific organisations today is PatientsLikeMe and they have united with RARE project to find and connect one million rare-disease patients – two mega non-profit and not just for profit content silos realising that working together is better for business and health outcomes. All heathcare providers, pharmaceutical companies and health professionals know that some of the best health and well-being content comes from people, and they are all very keen to engage and create conversations.
This is not from just an ethical standpoint, it makes business sense too. Patients can have better health outcomes and businesses and learn about real world situations which can accelerate discovery of new treatments and methods.
A growing percentage of health content is now moving into video to be found on YouTube and digital community television. Good news? Well imagine now that you are deaf and perhaps too that your first language is not English – how does that now affect your choices? No matter how good a lip reader you are you could miss important decision making information.
This week for the first time UK NHS Choices, in partnership with SignHealth, launches film clips on key health topics – breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and heart disease – in British sign language (BSL). A spokesman for SignHealth says that studies have shown that deaf people have worse health than hearing people and we believe that the lack of accessible health information is a contributory factor. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come where routinely all content will be accessible.
Finally I have to end with Twitter and perhaps the platform that really started the deconstruction of silos and the transparency ball rolling. Health content features high on this social media platform.
I get involved with discussions such as the health care social media hashtags (#hcsmeu, #hcsm, #hcsmca) and the participants always include patients. Patients and carers are asking questions and looking for content and HealthCentral, a well-known health content platform, have just launched their @Health_Tips twitter account which will respond one to one with trusted resources and guidance.
Content silos are changing, and to some extent we have been waiting for the technology to catch up to encourage and allow better finding, sharing, managing and ultimately the use of content. About time I think.
By Joanna Ptolomey
Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.
She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.
You can follow Joanna on Twitter.
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