Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wave and Healthcare

I have been experimenting with Google Wave primarily interested in finding some healthcare related use for this new tool. It is very difficult to explain Wave...

Google started by dropping out 100,000 invites to Wave. It is touted as a "personal communication and collaboration tool" and was announced on May 28, 2009. It is a web service that merges e-mail, instant messaging, wiki, collaboration tools and social networking. It also provides robust spelling/grammar checking and automated translation between 40 languages. There are many other extensions as well. Lars Rasmussen, Software Engineering Manager at Google explains:
Here's how it works: In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It's concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use "playback" to rewind the wave and see how it evolved.

Wave will not run on the current version of IE, but you can install Google Chrome "frame" and it will work, but with frequent crashes. It runs very well on Safari 4, Firefox 3.5 and of course Google Chrome.
We have started a small but growing group of folks interested in healthcare on Google Wave and are working to find some interesting uses. @PhilBaumann, @pHealth, @NickDawson, @GFriese, some others and I have been playing around with some of the features.

Some difficulties we have experienced so far:

  • You cannot yet remove contacts from a wave once they have been added
  • The spell checking is not as functional as I would like (Google Chrome's is better)
  • There is very little control over anything... It would be nice to be able to lock a blip (which is a little message inside a wave) for editing when you want it to be complete
  • More extensions will add better functionality that will be useful for healthcare applications (pulling in a live Twitter feed, Google Talk chats, and secure email integration will be important)
More extensions are constantly being added and already we can post waves to a blog, pull our Twitter streams into a wave (static), and I expect soon to some integration with Google docs and GMail. If anyone has specific ideas on how this tool can be useful for healthcare/medicine then let me know. If you are on Google Wave my contact is