Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cool Technology of the Week

Numerous authors have suggested that six degrees of separation connect every human on the planet.

In healthcare IT, I'm convinced it's one degree, since we all seem to know each other.

Understanding the six degrees of separation of healthcare in Eastern Massachusetts can be challenging with our numerous providers, private payers, public payers, and academic affiliations.

The Cool Technology of the week is OrgScope, an organizational
mapping tool invented by the folks at NetAge. It's built on StarTree,
an elegant hyperbolic viewer originally invented at Xerox PARC by
Ramana Rao. NetAge has used OrgScope to map the Boston Healthcare

What's a hyperbolic viewer? Per one leader in the development of hyperbolic geometry, David P. Dobkin of Princeton, hyperbolic space provides a new perspective on viewing objects - "As you fly toward things, you get more and more detail." It's a bit like the New Yorker cover shown above - as you change focus, the scale around you changes proportionally, increasing the detail of your immediate environment and making more distant objects disappear.

To test it out, click on the Boston Healthcare Network initial model - Tree version , then on Harvard University, then on Harvard Medical School. Drag the Harvard Medical School icon to the center of your screen. Try moving the Harvard Medical School icon counter clockwise to expand the network and clockwise to shrink it. You'll find Partners and Caregroup, then see how Beth Israel Deaconess, where I work, relates to the entire network.

In addition to organizational network modeling, OrgScope includes analytics to help understand the layers of organizations.

Potential applications of this technology include visualizing the details of people within organizations, trust relationships within a health information exchange, and even the nationwide health information network.

I found this hyperbolic viewer much easier than an org chart for navigating a large number of complex relationships and look forward to the potential uses of this technology for visualizing our increasing connectedness in healthcare.


danny said...

similar techniques used by to visualize relationships between musical artists

Brian said...

Very cool technology -- puts a new twist on the static org chart and network diagrams.

Wes Rishel said...

But nothing is really a hierarchy. Does this conceptual approach fall apart in a multi-relational network? How would it work for viewing concept maps?

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