Worlds colliding…industry vs. academia

by Hans on 2008/05/13

It’s interesting to see how differently ehealth is viewed by academics and industry.  To one, ehealth is the potential of using new mediums to explore ideas and possibilities, while to the other, ehealth is more of a means to an end.

For the past few years, I’ve been in the academic world exploring the limits of our existing evaluation theory as applied to ehealth innovations.  As a researcher (or perhaps more aptly, ‘would be’ researcher), I focused on the concepts of ehealth and how one could evaluate these constructs.  The pursuit was academic and intellectual, even though I tried my best to remain grounded in solving, what I perceived to be, real problems.  Perhaps that’s why much of my writing and thinking on this topic has been focused on the patient and how users of the technology (health care providers included) can be empowered by ehealth.

More recently, I’ve been exposed to the industry perspective of ehealth.  In this world, ehealth is all about programs and projects, about deployment schedules, funding options, and providing the framework to move a health care system along.  Here, there really isn’t any time for or value of the rigorous methodological approaches (and debates) surrounding randomized control trials, systematic reviews, or even articulating an epistemological viewpoint on how knowledge is constructed or derived.  Ehealth, in this context, is a business matter that requires analysis, forecast, and action.

For me, I feel somewhat stuck between two worlds, not having left the academic/research world, and yet being asked to help address some industry problems.  Discussions in the realm of industry hardly mention patients except in strategy/vision documents.  Ehealth is big business, dominated by government bodies and vendors.

I’m not saying that one is better than the other.  I merely point out something that wasn’t *real* to me until recently.  I always knew that industry is different and operated differently than the research world, but perhaps I was a bit naive about how much difference there really is.

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