I’m always on the lookout for new online communities around Healthcare IT. I test drive them for a little while and then decide how I’m going to incorporate them into my daily routine. I evaluate what benefits I get from participating. Sometimes the benefits of participating are just helping someone out. There’s something really satisfying about doing something for someone else.
My latest test drive has been the Healthcare IT Question and Answer site on Stack Exchange. I’ve used Stack Exchange a bunch before when I needed some programming help. However, I’m guessing that most people in healthcare IT (unless you’re a programmer) probably aren’t that familiar with Stack Exchange. Well, they created such an interesting community around question and answers that they got a whole bunch of VC funding and they’ve been growing their network into all sorts of new niches. Thus, the launch of the Healthcare IT Stack Exchange community.
You can go and check out my techguy profile on the HIT Stack Exchange site if you want to see what I’ve done. I’ve already got a reputation of 46 (whatever that means). I’ve already answered 9 questions on the site and a few people have been nice enough to vote up my answers.
For example, if you are a MUMPS lover, you can see my answers on this MUMPS replacement question and this NoSQL in Healthcare IT one. I couldn’t resist answering a question about CCHIT. I also took a swing at the PHR question, but I’m sure I could have dug a little more on that one to mention some other PHR software. Instead, I opted for the two most popular ones. I even hopped in the chat room, but it wasn’t that exciting since I was the only one there. You can check out the chat room, but you won’t be able to chat until you have enough reputation. Keeps out spammers, but makes for a boring chat room until you get some critical mass.
Of course, the real challenge with any site like this is the standard chicken and egg problem. You need a large number of people to ask and answer questions. However, in order to get a large number of people asking and answering questions, you need a lot of good questions and answers. I guess we’ll see how it evolves over time. The sidebar of the site says they’ve had 113 questions, 241 answers, 319 users and 147 visitors/day. A pretty small community, but a pretty good response rate considering the number of users. I just wish there was more discussion of EMR & EHR on the site since that’s what interests me most.
Let me know what you think and if you see any good questions or answers on the site that you think I should see. I’ll be keeping an eye on it to see how the community develops. I’d hate to have my 46 reputation points go to waste.