Environmental Scan? Ecosystem?

It sounds like the sort of thing you would expect from an environmentalist or naturalists. In my work as an advocate for the hep C community I hear terms like “environment scan” and “ecosystem” thrown around like they were always used. And, I am left wondering if it is because they are so succinct or the latest buzzwords we see creeping into the dialogue. Is it that they sum up what the user is saying in the most economical way with the language or something else?

In an earlier piece I wrote on buzzwords and catchphrases I did not include these two and I hope I am simply not rehashing previous writings but it seems to me I have heard these two a lot lately.

So, What Do These Phrases Mean?

What they mean is up for debate of course, but I will explain how I understand their meaning. Environmental scan appears to mean taking a look at relevant activity associated with a particular study or activity. For instance if you were studying the effectiveness of a program and want to take a look at information/data that supports or defeats your hypothesis (belief). This environmental scan could have a designated geographical context as in a city, state, province or territory/country, but not exclusively. It could also simply be an overview of, or a look at a snapshot in time.

I know this is probably not language you use or most of us use but it is part and parcel in the world I spend time in and wanted to share it with you. Some of it is odd and some is plain silly from my perspective, either way, it is a language of those who would work in crafting the programs that impact us all.

Back to the Phrases in Question…

Ecosystem has always been a word I thought referred to a system in nature – the natural world. But, it has new life in the language of business, sciences and medicine, and I suppose everywhere including the tech world. I hear it often lately, and it has a similar meaning – I think… along the lines of all of the various parts that make up a system, and in the world of program science it refers to the pieces that help to support the existence of the program, whatever it is. Imagine the program as a machine and all the parts that enable the machine to operate well is the ecosystem. You may be asking yourself why do I need to know about these words or phrases, and that is a good question. I wonder why I need to understand them too, but I do, otherwise I won’t know what it is people are talking about. I am not a program scientist and I base my own ideas about what works best on my day-to-day experience listening to people like you. The gaps in care, the linkage to care and treatment, the supports and barriers you face are what drive my opinions on what is likely to help people who are at risk for or faced with a hep C diagnosis. This is my scan and my system, my real world as I am fond of calling it.

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