Disruptive Innovation in Professional Education and Decision Support

By | July 16, 2014

Communities and services built on curated digital collections of tutorial-format information are disrupting several “industries” including higher education, continuing education, and professional and occupational publishing (textbooks, reference works, and manuals).

A great example is UpToDate.com, which has replaced printed textbooks, reference works, and journal articles in many U.S. teaching hospitals and medical practices. Quoting from UpToDate’s web site:

UpToDate® is an evidence-based, physician-authored clinical decision support resource which clinicians trust to make the right point-of-care decisions. More than 5,700 world-renowned physician authors, editors and peer reviewers use a rigorous editorial process to synthesize the most recent medical information into trusted, evidence-based recommendations that are proven to improve patient care and quality.

UpToDate is available, by subscription, to working medical professionals, residents, interns, and students. UpToDate also provides a free “lite” version for caregivers and patients. As such, UpToDate is a great example of a collection-based community and service offering that is certain to be replicated in dozens, if not hundreds, of other fields of knowledge, education and practice.

Generalizing from UpToDate to other fields, a curated collection can provide community and services for at least four major professional and occupational use cases:

  • Instructors/faculty at educational institutions worldwide;
  • Students at educational institutions worldwide;
  • Continuing or executive education enterprises; and
  • Learners and working professionals in enterprises worldwide.

The 22-year-old UpToDate is well known in health sciences but the model of valuable services built on a curated collection is only now starting to come into use (and disrupting industry and practices) in other professional or occupational fields such as architectural programming and construction management; water resource engineering; and design, planning, and operation of logistics systems.

I’ve shared more thoughts on the trajectory and implications of this disruptive innovation in another post.