ClickCare Café

Medical Collaboration: Think Like A Neanderthal

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Mon, Sep 03, 2012 @ 09:17 PM

 The need for medical collaboration is astounding. Care coordination is most important. 

Medical collaboration is required because of specialization.

Why think like a Neanderthal? Or more accurately, like this Cro-Magnon Man. 

As knowledge expands no one of us can know enough, and we must become more narrow and specialized.  

The concept of collaboration is not new. As a matter of fact, it is old, very old.

History (discussed here with some significant over-simplification) shows that the issue is an integral part of our species development. For instance, as soon as Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons transformed society from hunter/gathers, they had a problem. 

Their problem was the same as ours. Let two long standing and highly honored Stanford Professors, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, explain their problem. The professors recognize that there are complex cultural decisions that we, in a modern society, need to make. A “culture gap” makes these societal decisions difficult and misguided. They have a website dedicated to closing this culture gap: The Dominant Animal. Human Evolution and the Environment. The website is an extension of a Stanford course. They make this note:

"After the evolution of language and the great leap forward, the most important event in cultural evolution was the agricultural revolution some 10,000 to 7,000 years ago, leading to great increases in stores of cultural information and a transformation of social organization as some people began to specialize in occupations other than farming, becoming, for example, priests, warriors, traders, carpenters, and teachers. Social hierarchies soon developed as well, with kings, governing officials, and peasants. No longer were individuals able to know virtually the entire content of their culture as hunter-gatherers could."

Think like a Neanderthal. The Neanderthal was coping and settling into his agricultural revolution. 

We are trying to cope and trying to settle in to our own information revolution. Medical information has become the wooly mammoth of 2012. 

The Neanderthal ponders --

  • How do you eat a wooly mammoth? One bite at a…?
  • How do you catch a wooly mammoth?
  • No one man, Neanderthal or not, could catch a wooly mammoth. Thus collaboration was necessary. They hunted cooperatively together. They specialized and shared expertise.

We ponder --

  • How do we “eat” all of the knowledge we are supposed to know.
  • How do we catch that mammoth knowledge?
  • No one of us can ingest it all. We, instead, need to share our expertise.


Care coordination is enhanced by pictures as well as words.While we doubt that prehistoric man worried about HIPAA and HITECH, we know that they used pictures and presumably words -- more likely spoken -- to communicate. The best tools they had was a rock wall inside a cave, natural pigments such as magnesium oxide mixed in animal fat or “air brushed” by blowing through a hollow reed. It worked, and the drawings are still here for us 12,000 years later. Here is an anatomic study called Venus and Sorcerer from the Salle de Fond, Chauvet Cave.

We designed iClickCare to meet the same need that our ancestors and ancestors had. The need to collaborate. The need to be clear. The need to educate later generations. While we all are frustrated, overwhelmed, and technologically fatigued, we can still cope—


One collaboration bite (byte) at at time.

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Cave Drawings





Tags: medical collaboration, coordinated care, mhealth, nurse collaboration

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