(By way of disclosure, with this post I am doing something unprecedented by writing about a project and subject involves a client (LinkTV) with whom I have worked and a project in which I had a very tangential hand. I have chosen to do so because I think that the implications of the technical development of a resource such as this has potential implications on a much broader scale than this project.)
There are two stories here.
The first is about global development and global public health and a new Web -based resource that is being launched today by Link TV called ViewChange.org. It is a collection of highly searchable video content that follows progress being made in reaching the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. If you are interested in global development and international public health issues, it is a treasure trove.
But there is another story – one that I think is riveting for those seeking to provide a complex range of information to a target audience. This story is about the technical structure for housing video and a search element that sets it apart in terms of what is provided to the user. That is because the search tool used on ViewChange.org employs semantic properties that takes search to entirely new levels. And those in healthcare should pay attention, because this combines aspects of what many in pharma are trying to do with patients right now. The only problem is that to do so, industry is using multiple platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to reach the patient with information and support. With semantic search, much more is possible.
What do I mean by the semantic properties of search? I mean that when you search for material on this site, it provides you with much more additional context than you would get in an ordinary search. On this site, you search for video. But what you get is much more.
That is because as you search for video on this site, what you will get in your search result is not only video that is tied to the subject matter of your search, but you will also get references to other videos on the Web that might be of interest to you as a result of the subject of your search. The site reaches outside of itself. In addition, you will get news articles about the topic for which you searched. In other words, the user now has video, news, prompts where to "take action" and references to other video.
The next page takes me to videos that are solely about health and in parentheses you can see the number of videos available in each category. You can see in the red circle that I've drawn here, that you can narrow your search in healthcare down, by either disease topic or even geography.
I've narrowed my search by disease, having chosen the topic of HIV and as a result, there are several different types of HIV topical videos ranging from a talk by Melinda Gates to videos that focus on specific projects. I'm going to choose a video called "Fighting HIV"….
What I get as a result is not just the video, but a host of other resources. Note that in the first red circle, there are tabs that will take me to (1) watch other videos on ViewChange.org about HIV; (2) to see about HIV in the news; and (3) to connect with organizations that are doing something about fighting HIV in the developing world. In the second red circle, you will find referrals to videos out on the Web that also have to do with fighting HIV.
Compare that with a search on YouTube, and you get why this is exciting. But it isn't just about video. Right now, some pharma companies have embraced social media to develop relationships with patients and consumers by providing resources for them through a number of platforms. For example, J&J which has been a forerunner and pace setter in the field of social media and pharma communications, has a huge video library set up on their site spanning a number of topics. At the same time, they have Facebook affinity pages set up for specific conditions and diseases where there is a provision of resources, and the company runs a blog. Other pharmas have some interesting YouTube channels while others have some that barely hang on.
To me, the future looks more like ViewChange.org – a more comprehensive one-stop shop that puts context to my search for healthcare information. For example, let's say I am a newly diagnosed patient with a condition – prostate cancer. I go to a site that was perhaps sponsored by a pharma company where I can find not only videos about prostate cancer, but links to the latest abstracts from medical conferences, links to support organizations, links to advocacy organizations, special treatment centers all organized under headings that I can pick, chose and customize. All of that is included in my search, along with a window that allows me to see real time search results appearing on my search topic – the latest being said on Twitter, Facebook and on blogs. That, in my mind, is the next generation of patient support search and a site like ViewChange.org both sets a new bar for the provision of Web based resources and lays out a whole new paradigm. That is the face of semantic search in healthcare.
The ViewChange.org site was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.