HITR – Health Information Technology Research Hub and Social Network

Posted on November 15, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I imagine that many of you have seen some people talking about HITR around the web. It’s a website backed by the people at Porter Research and Billian’s HealthData. I know that I first saw it a few months ago and wasn’t quite sure I understood what they were trying to do. I couldn’t tell if they were trying to be Sermo, a private healthcare IT social network, or something new. The lack of clear vision for me meant I set it to the side.

While attending AHIMA this year I had the chance to spend quite a bit of time with a number of different people from Billian’s HealthData and Porter Research. We had a great time talking about all sorts of things, but they of course told me that I should look more at their new HITR product. I told them I’d take a look not knowing what to really expect.

A week or so ago, Jennifer Dennard set up a demo of HITR for me. While still a nascent product, I was intrigued how they used their knowledge and experience in healthcare research and embedded it so fully in the product. I guess I could have and should have assumed as much, but I was reasonably impressed with the idea of having a hub for healthcare IT research. I know how much I and other IT people love our data.

One interesting thing about HITR is the give to get model that they’ve set up. Basically they’ve arranged it so you give your feedback on your products to get access to other information and research from your peers. I imagine they’ll be adjusting this model over time, but it kind of reminds me of the open source model where everyone contributes a little bit and everyone benefits from the other people’s efforts.

The real challenge that HITR faces is just making sure they get enough people involved and participating to make the information they collect valuable. Plus, they have to get enough people and the right people on board. I’m not sure how scientific the results will be considering it’s a basically self selected example. I can’t remember if they include qualitative results along with the quantitative, but that could be really helpful even if the results aren’t scientifically correct on the quantitative side.

One other concept that they said they were exploring with HITR is the idea of getting connected with referral sites for a healthcare IT product that you’re considering. I REALLY love this idea. In my e-Book on EMR selection I recommend finding some referral sites and visiting them to get a feel for that EHR software in practice and to talk with a doctor who actually uses that EHR software day in and day out. The problem is that if you ask the EMR company for some referral sites they’ll give you a bias list. I suggest in the book to ask for their entire client list. However, I think using HITR could be another interesting way to find a referral site outside of the EMR vendors’ pre-groomed list.

I asked Jennifer Dennard to send me a list of some of the other benefits of using HITR. This should also give you a decent feel for what they’re working on with HITR.

I’d list the benefits for everyone as:

  • Ability to connect with peers
  • Blogs
  • Groups
  • Discussions
  • Job boards

Benefits to providers that take surveys would include:

  • Ability to gauge how your employees evaluate the systems you’ve put in place at your facilities
  • Ability to see how those same systems are rated by your colleagues at peer institutions
  • Ability to start a more in-depth dialogue with HITR connections about HIT systems you may be considering for your facility, and their experiences with those same systems
  • Ability to influence future HIT product development

Benefits to vendors include:

  • Ability to view how their systems are evaluated by their customers
  • Ability to correspond with providers for product management/development purposes
  • In the near future, vendors will be able to sponsor surveys through HITR to deploy to their chosen audiences – customers, prospects, etc.

If you have a chance to sign up for HITR, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience. Like I said, it’s a new site, but has some interesting possibilities if they execute it right.