“…with no centralized control, someone in Greece connected with people in New Hampshire and Illinois, and got a paper written in New Jersey sent to a conference in Austria. All within 30 minutes, and without knowing who had the paper or even knowing that it existed.”
This is how ePatientDave concludes a recent blog post describing an unexpected amount of information flow – information flow that was possible because Dave has a well-evolved social graph, embraces technologies that connect him to his social graph, and is open to share and engage with his social graph. At least these are some of the lessons we can learn from Dave’s experience…
The theme of this week’s Healthcare Social Media Review is: “Building Evidence for a Future of Open and Connected Healthcare.” And my premise is simple: Patients need other patients for support. Physicians need other physicians. Scientists need other scientists. And only when we have built systems to support sharing across these networks and we have adopted new skills to leverage collaborative models will we see real, meaningful improvement. But to get there we need to collect the evidence or ideas describing how this could work. Stories like those that Dave consistently shares comprise a very, very good start!
As I describe in #SocialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Healthcare, there is too urgent a need to improve the quality of the US healthcare system to allow this all to evolve by chance. I feel a very real obligation to not only engage in new channels for sharing, but to begin to understand their impact – to play the role of the maven and to find collaborative models of information flow, learning, and healthcare improvement wherever they may lie. And this is how I came to choose the posts below.
Bryan Vartabedian is a close friend and research collaborator. He and I have spent hours talking through the impact of open and connected healthcare, and he recently described the relevance to the practicing physician:
“I’m convinced I was born at just the right time in history. I was trained as an analog physician but I’m a witness to medicine’s digital transformation. It’s really a remarkable time to be in medicine. And one of the key forces behind this transformation is information. What I’d like to talk about is how information is changing doctors and how we might begin to react.”
In a separate blog, Bryan explores what all this new technology might mean to how we label ourselves, “In the end I see the emergence of the tweetiatrician as a small demonstration of social solidarity for a profession defining itself in a new age. An old field meets a new medium.”
Howard Luks is another maven that I quite often learn from. Howard takes on these matters in a very frank and practical way:
“Many practices and hospitals will not exist in five years… it’s simply a matter of economics. Who will remain relevant and who will not? I don’t think the winners will have beaten the competition because they worked harder. The secret is in the understanding of what matters. Which technologies are absolutely necessary? Which offer you, and thus your organization and patients a distinct advantage over your competitors?”
Reed Smith and his collaborators have gone the needed extra step to begin to quantify the impact of new channels for sharing at the level of the healthcare system – remembering that it is less about the accounts and more about how they are being used – but this data provides a fascinating look into the adoption of the channels that may connect the broadest social graphs. It would be a great idea to surf over to “[Infographic] Hospitals + Facebook: a Study of 13 Hospital Systems” and join the conversation.
The next few blogs we collected this week focus on examples of how new media channels can change the way traditional avenues for information sharing work: simplifying the collection of information and simplifying the flow of information. Perhaps on first pass they may seem rather disconnected – but think about ‘information flow’…and how fundamentally disruptive the impacts of these changes may be.
From Ronan Kavanagh we learn about, ‘Attending a medical meeting in my dressing gown.’
“I’m beginning to wonder about the value of attending the big blockbuster medical meetings in general. There’s too much information (poorly filtered), so many delegates that the social value of the meeting has become diluted… this year I’ll be attending the ACR virtually, in my dressing gown, from the comfort of my home office.”
From Craig Thompson we learn about, ‘Using Social Media to Support Healthcare Events.’ Craig does a commendable job at laying out his recent event planning efforts as a pilot study…what did we want to accomplish, what did we try to do, how will we know if we were successful, and what could have been done better. [This idea of seeing every action as a ‘pilot action’ is fundamental to our success – I touch on this throughout #SocialQI the book.]
We learn another marvelous lesson from Howard Luks in his post, “Twitter as a Lifeline: Lessons from Sandy” – a first hand account of the impact of social media on his experiences and sanity throughout Superstorm Sandy:
“2 PM Monday… the lights go out — and the internet with it. 150,000 other homes in my area are dark too — how do I know? Twitter! 6 PM Monday…. first trees fall — Local cell tower dead… access is physically blocked to the rest of the world. My neighbor tweets this to the world…”
From Ken Walz we learn about, “Dealing with the Growing Power of ‘Medical Googlers’ “.
“The internet has made sharing information easier, and caused empowered consumers to demand more from their doctors. This new world isn’t going away, and medical innovators might be well-served to work closely with doctors—no matter the resistance—to encourage the use of information that separates hoofbeats from zebras.”
And finally from Joseph Kvedar, we begin to see how this might all create something greater than the sum of the parts in his post, “Should Your Doctor Be Following You On Twitter?”
“…When we’re going about our daily lives, messaging about what we’re thinking or doing in-the-moment, these Tweets can provide a more accurate picture and far more information of a person’s state than a series of routine questions. Hence, I believe Tweets and other social media postings can provide a window into an individual’s health and wellness… So, based on this early analysis, I’m inclined to think that yes, your doctor should follow you. Not in the sense that she will be waiting for your Tweets to come up on her iPhone, but rather in this more analytic sense. My hypothesis is that Twitter feeds and text messages will enable us to get a window into your soul.”
Joe’s post tells a story so much bigger than just about Twitter, it tells a story about how free flowing information offers us new ways to share and learn…but not only in a linear way – you share and I learn. His story pulls back the curtain on the ‘derivative value’ of information flow – you share and we all learn about the information, when it was shared, how it was shared, how people responded to it, what themes emerge from these conversations…and the list goes on and on and on. This is what I mean when I say, “And only when we have built systems to support sharing across these networks and we have adopted new skills to leverage collaborative models will we see real, meaningful improvement.”
I am fan of exercises like the Healthcare Social Media Review because it forces me to flex my analytic muscles, become the maven, and look for unifying themes across posts and conversations. My hope is that I have been able to shed some light on how this might work. Joe Kvedar was not really telling us about Twitter, Ken Walz was not really talking about Google, and Ronan Kavanagh was not really talking about medical conferences – to me each of the authors whose work makes up this edition of the Review was telling a story about how new channels of information flow change what it means to be a patient or a physician…and how healthcare in the broadest sense will never, ever be the same.