Saturday, January 5, 2008


Digitization is known for creating platforms for quick and 360 degrees of communication. And these internet based interactions have created new ideas since ideas breed ideas. Knowledge needs constant exchanges to create new knowledge, and digitization – internet facilitates this.

The current buzz word is ATTENTION ECONOMY

This word was coined by Her Simon, as per Wikipedia. The essence of this concept is that in this wired world, there is information overload, and the competing sources of information have created a poverty of attention. Information overload leads to the all important question: WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THE INFORMATION?

This is where ATTENTION ECONOMY comes in to play. Attention economy is all about harvesting information to create profits (Quote from interview with Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan, CEO and MD of Infosys in Economic Times, dated, 31.12.2007, p no 5). With information overload coming of age there is a need for providing value added information in a relevant way for better decision making.

Attention economics is an approach to the management of information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity, and applies economic theory to solve various information management problems.

Herbert Simon was perhaps the first person to articulate the concept of attention economics when he wrote:

" an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it" (Simon 1971, p. 40-41).

Using Attention Economy practices in Pharma

Pharma and life sciences is about information, and more information. Today there are three categories of Pharmaceuticals available: BIOPHARMACEUTICALS, HERBOPHARMACEUTICALS, and CHEMOPHARMACEUTICALS. Essentially this implies: vaccines, sera, statins, and other biotech products in Biopharmaceuticals; herbal medicinal products in Herbopharmaceuticals; and chemical based pharmaceuticals in Chemopharmaceuticals. From the prescriber or patient or customer point of view there are the above three categories of healthcare products, and a lot of associated information. Moreover, healthcare is such a subject that there is a lot of information search behavior. There is tremendous collaborative information and idea sharing on healthcare matters through web 2.0 tools. Thus, there is a great scope and challenge in creating specific attention economy services and products that benefit healthcare companies, healthcare organizations, prescribers, healthcare professionals, patients, prospects etc.

Attention Economy in Healthcare

There is a lot of action in healthcare information harvesting with Google Health and Microsoft Healthvault going headlong in to this domain. The interesting point is how will Google and Microsoft use Attention Economy practices to harvest information and add value to the information – seeker.

For instance, when a person in China suffers from common cold, he will opt for Traditional Chinese Herbal medicine or boil ginger roots in water and use it for relief than go in for a Western medicine product. These approaches will get noticed and get adopted by a curious netizens.

Information, ideas, and idea clutter (or idea overload)

Information feeds imagination and breeds ideas. Thus attention economy, by harvesting information, and facilitating decision making will obviously create more and more novel approaches (ie. Ideas). And from information overload, the stage is set for idea overload. For instance, today in management of arthritis, there are a no. of therapies and moieties available from pain management NSAIDs, steroids, glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, sodium hyaluronate injections…what does the prescriber or patient use? Which idea or approach to follow? What are the new benchmarks? Hence, attention economy practices will try to resolve this information and idea clutter to provide workable approaches in a situation (for the prescriber and patient), in the future.


Metaanalysis is a type of information harvesting practice that can affect profits negatively or positively. In a metaanalysis, results of several clinical studies are analyzed, and a conclusion is drawn. In a metaanalysis a new clinical study is not done, but a new statistical analysis is made by pooling the clinical data of several studies. Publication of metaanalysis studies can have a high impact, for instance the ROSIGLITAZONE (AVANDIA) METAANALYSIS STUDY, which reported that there is a potential for serious adverse cardiovascular effects of treatment with rosiglitazone for type 2 diabetes. In this case, attention economy (harvesting information for profits) indicates the pitfalls of glitazones in clinical practice, and indicates to R & Ds on how to allocate research funds.

So which type of attention economy service will succeed in the information marketplace?

The answer obviously is that attention economy service, which will win the TRUST of the prospect or customer. The basics never change. People do business with people - TRUST is the watchword for winning attention economy services or products. In the healthcare domain, Google has a leap start as it has won a lot of trust for providing healthcare information of value to seekers, will Google Health take it forwards in 2008?

2008: WILL USHER IN A NEW ERA OF ATTENTION ECONOMY PRACTICES IN HEALTHCARE. Do you agree? Thanks for going through the above blogpost, please go through more blogposts by scrolling down and clicking on older posts, when required. For the URL of the picture please CLICK HERE.

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