Friday, February 9, 2007

E-medicine - Tipping Points, Dot.Coms, and Connectors

What’s a Tipping Point? And what’s its relationship with Dot.coms, and Connectors? Therein lies the tale of this blog.

According to Malcolm Gladwell in Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Little Brown, 2000), the Tipping Point is a sociological term describing how ideas or events trigger chaotic or disruptive changes resembling infectious disease epidemics.

The, or digital, revolution is such an epidemic. I was thinking of this epidemic on February 8 when Diane Sawyer interviewed Steve Case, CEO of Revolution Health ( on ABC News. Case said his website will revolutionize health care by connecting all those health care dots, in the process igniting an epidemic infecting consumers and empowering them to control care, prevent disease, and improve health. We’ll see if that begins to happen in April, when a media blitz will highlight his site.

The epidemic is already roiling the U.S. media marketplace. Readership of major national newspapers is dropping like a rock, and viewership of major TV networks – ABC. NBC, CBS, and CNN – is plunging. Meanwhile, contagious Internet sites like Yahoo, Google, and YouTube are spreading the epidemic by offering free news and even free television programming, thereby siphoning profits and markets from major media.

Enter the “Connector.” The Gospel according to Gladwell is that a personality type known as a Connector may make a big difference in controlling the epdemic. Connectors are people with wide social contacts. Connectors are hubs of social networks and are capable of taking a huge industry, like health care, and cutting it down to size by connecting people and ideas.

I’m a connector (with a small “c”). I stumbled on my connector role,

• when writing a book Voices of Health Reform, which consisted of 41 interviews with national health care stakeholders;
• when interviewing forty of so innovators for Innovation-Driven Health Care, innovators who are making a difference;
• when answering phone calls and emails emanating from my 27 articles over the last three years that have appeared in, where each submission is read daily by about 50,000 healthleaders.

During these activities, it dawned on me we’re all in this thing called health care together. Two things– information technologies and human connections – now tether us all together. technologies may be the Great Enabler, but it takes human networking and understanding to make the right connections. All that rises must connect, and it connects between you and me and all those other knowledgeable people out there.

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