Web 2.0 Summit, Hold the Mayo


While all the peHubUb was in overdrive last week (apologies accepted and returned), I traveled with my dad to the Mayo Clinic in the hope of helping him find a diagnosis to a difficult medical problem which has so far eluded his doctors. It was a difficult week and my first exposure to the Mayo Clinic. I quickly became a fan, but not only because of the medical treatment. What quickly became obvious was the advanced IT infrastructure which pervades the clinic, from a generous WiFi network to the almost-paperless medical workflow.

After years of watching medical receptionists frustratingly fumble with DOS function keys — and more recently with Windows 95 applications — it was refreshing to see patients effortlessly whisked from doctor-to-doctor while slick LCD panels displayed exams, history, labs, and radiology images in real-time. In between appointments, doctors dictated their clinical notes into hallway telephones; A few hours later the LCD panels reflect copious notes of the day’s visits.

I mention all this because the trip to Mayo forced me to miss last week’s greatest ball back home: the Web 2.0 Summit. But while I was busy distracting myself with the Mayo’s tech wonders, it turns out the Mayo Clinic was in turn taking in the wonders of the Web’s Second Coming. Upon returning this weekend, a double-cappuccino bought me the attendee list for the event from a good friend (normal cost: $3K ++). Paging through it, I noticed multiple attendees from, you guessed it: The Mayo Clinic.

I can only speculate what folks from the Mayo Clinic may have been doing traveling to the conference (I suspect it wasn’t to see Lou Reed, if only because he made a surprise appearance that even the cognoscenti hadn’t predicted) but to see if any of the latest internet apps might have use for helping patients back home. If anyone spoke to them, please share.

The IT establishment (or at least one person in it: Andy Grove) has been working hard for many years to bring the medical world out of the dark ages and improve record keeping. Mayo is clearly ahead of the curve.

Are others following?  Or are they just taking a walk on the wild side?