For nearly a decade there have been some great efforts made to support the idea of a ‘rapid-learning healthcare system.’ This is a term and an idea that predates social media, but it is an idea that is perfectly positioned to leverage social media in critical and wonderful ways.
A rapid-learning healthcare system, as it is described most frequently, is comprised of ever-growing and increasingly real-time data sets that may be mined for trends, for anomalies, and for best practice in healthcare in hopes of ensuring that every patient encounter is able to inform every other patient encounter – and that lessons learned once, are learned and applied in as broadly appropriate ways as possible.
Now, with this in mind, considered what social media may add to this model…
In #socialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Your Healthcare I make the following argument:
The ultimate goal of this book is to begin a dialog about the need for dialog and to begin to share evidence about the need for sharing evidence. Realistically, not every element of the healthcare system can be fixed overnight, but by opening up to one another, by building a collective story and history about what works and why, and by becoming engaged in a community of like-minded patients, physicians, or even scientists, we can all move the healthcare system forward ― and perhaps together we can get it to the place it needs to be by the time we next need it.
From my perspective, social media provides nearly unlimited potential to support the rapid-learning healthcare system by serving as an unprecedented information-sharing ecosystem. Patients can find, crowdsource, validate, and learn from information that was never previously available to them. Healthcare professionals can share their experiences, insights, wisdom, and questions with a global community of professionals and patients. And, biomedical research scientists can rapidly disseminate their successes and failure, their trials and errors, and their unique vision of what could be.
In support of this perspective I am constantly monitoring the twitter stream and blogs for examples from which we can all learn, and this is why I continue to look at the #hcsm review as a critical tool in this regards. We NEED filters like that provided by #hcsm review to help us each identify the truly important lessons as they arise.
So from this edition, I hope you find one or two lessons that you may rapidly apply in your professional or personal healthcare journey!
To be clear, there are very sophisticated approaches being taken to ensure that social media in healthcare becomes a model for rapid learning in healthcare – here is one of my favorites from the past few weeks: Health Tag Ontology Project: Adding Meaning to Social Media? Leave it to an oncologist and medical librarian to see the world through ‘informatics-colored’ glasses…
Beyond this, there are dozens and dozens of examples of clinician thought leaders sharing their personal experiences with us all in hopes that we can learn from their very real and very revealing frustrations. See this short piece written by @doctor_V: Outward Thinking Medical Leaders.
There are very tactical examples of social media supporting the rapid learning healthcare system, like this one exploring how online patient communities may accelerate clinical trial programs: Clinical Trials Could Get More Help From Social Media
Perhaps one of the most broadly recognized means of social media-powered ‘rapid learning’ is the emergence of the tweetchat. This is also a great way to ‘gateway’ late adopters – it provides a more immediate and more familiar learning experience! In many ways the tweetchat model provides two learning opportunities in one as many participants have taken to archiving and critiquing the conversation in the hours, days, and weeks that follow. As an example, even those who were unable to attend the Twitter Chat with U.S. News: EMPOWERING THE PATIENT can benefit by the archive and by the broad distribution of that archive through the global social graph!
Another great example is how social media has driven the rise of short, simplified, visually appealing means of sharing data with the general population – not necessarily a strength of the academics throughout healthcare. Here is a great example of an infographic shared through social media that just so happens to be about social media: Visual Wednesdays: Healthcare and Social Media.
And, there is irony in this post about how ‘viral’ a strep throat epidemic became on Facebook and how Social Media Gets Strep Throat Epidemic Under Control - but clearly we continue to see examples of how population health is informed by social media monitoring
In an article entitled Why Healthcare Facilities Belong on Pinterest we are provided some best practice tips on how easy it can be to use social media to support an institution’s public health educational goals, with three great examples!
In that same vein, we continue to learn how social media can be used to communicate to different audiences with different expectations AND different competencies. This recent post from Chen Sirkis reminds us of the ‘average’ literacy of the general public: I’m a Patient and I Read Like a Seventh Grader: This Is Your Problem.
And for those more interested in the nuts and bolts of how social media may be engineered to support learning, here is a great post entitled, ‘How We Use Social Media for Informal Learning‘
Thank you for taking the time to explore these resources, and thank you to all those contributing in your own way to this rapid-learning healthcare system. Learning is a very complex and very critical element of health, and one that has sadly gotten way too little attention in my opinion. But if we begin to conceive of social media as an means of supporting a ‘rapid-learning healthcare system’ then perhaps we may move this needle. I can only hope that this edition of the #hcsm blog review provides each of you with the perspective to be a leader in this needed change!