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Introduction

The web page through which Bonnie Martin first connected to a Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute nurse is just one part of a much larger "digital ecosystem" of coordinated static and dynamic content, interactive clinical and administrative services, and established and emerging social media platforms that took multiple teams of medical, operational, marketing, and IT professionals literally decades to design and build. It is the product of years of experience and experimentation; it features some of the most popular and respected online health information content in the world; and the one single fixed and constant thing about it is that it is always in motion. Always. It literally never stops changing. Ever. It can't, because if it did, it would immediately recede into the rearview mirror of online relevancy because right now, even as you read these words, the critical mass of all those wildly popular technology-based consumer products absolutely everyone in the world seems to either have or want is focusing personal communication, retail purchasing, and a myriad of other connectivity and transactional experiences into one single hotspot location: the palm of your hand.

Today, consumer computing is all about going mobile, to the point that augmenting the digital potential of the approximately three billion existing users who are active on the Internet worldwide, the generally accepted 71 percent total penetration of mobile devices that is anticipated to occur by 20191 will almost certainly result in a corresponding explosion in demand-driven innovation. With 192 countries, representing nearly half of the world's population, already connected by 3G mobile networks, it won't be long before smartphones and tablets begin outselling PCs,2 making mobile connectivity the common town square wherein virtually the entirety of humankind will come together to trade, work, and play.

In this new reality of digital mobility, the traditional desktop computer's standard rectangular 1280 by 1024 pixel display configuration, or even the newer 1920 by 1200 pixel landscape orientation of flat-screen monitors, will soon be, if not entirely obsolete, at the very least relegated to second-class status by website designers and content creators as they imagine new and better ways to connect to their rapidly expanding, increasingly sophisticated customer base. Today's designers, including the ones responsible for keeping Cleveland Clinic's web presence on the leading edge of the industry's creativity curve, spend most of their time thinking about how their sites will look in the mobile device vertical. And with the touch screen as the world's emerging navigational interface of choice, drop-down menus and the traditional computer mouse will become a thing of the past.

But there is a distinct difference between exploring visionary possibilities and simply riding a fad. The trick, of course, is knowing (in the moment) which is which; and the stakes, particularly in healthcare, have never been higher. Even if most early Internet adopters originally regarded their websites as—essentially—a compact form of billboard advertising, contemporary ...

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