Posted in #HCSM, Twitter

Can A Hashtag Change Healthcare? The Impact of Healthcare Tweet Chats

tweet-follow1Can A Hashtag Change Healthcare?  

The first time I read this quote from Dana Lewis, moderator of #hcsm the premier tweet chat on healthcare, I was gripped by the notion of how Twitter and in particular tweet chats could influence the way we practise healthcare.

Social media is a radical shift in the way we communicate. The healthcare conversation is no longer a one-way narrative but is evolving into a global, participatory discussion. One of the most powerful ways I see this happening is in the modality of the tweet chat. The role Twitter plays in breaking down patient/provider barriers, disseminating and expanding the reach of healthcare information, widening social networks and co-creating a collaborative model of shared health information is one of the most exciting developments in social media.

What Is A Tweet Chat?

For those who may be unfamiliar with the phenomenon of a tweet chat – it is a pre-arranged chat that happens on Twitter through the use of updates called tweets. It includes a predefined #hashtag which links the tweets together in a virtual conversation. Most tweet chats follow a common format of a moderator who introduces pre-arranged topics relevant to the chat and keeps the conversation on track. The chats usually last one hour and a transcript of tweets is available after the chat has ended.

Symplur is doing an impressive job of compiling all of the healthcare hashtags and providing chat transcripts in The Healthcare Hashtag Project. The goal of the project is to make the use of healthcare social media and Twitter more accessible for the healthcare community as a whole (a full list and a tweet chat calendar of meeting times can be found on the Symplur website).

What Is The Impact Of Tweet Chats On Healthcare?

As a relatively new technological innovation, the use of Twitter as a modality for health communication is only now beginning to be explored with particular emphasis on the role Twitter may play in contributing to health based conversations directed at individual, community, and societal levels.

Many times, people’s choices in terms of Personal Health Practices (PHP) are context dependent and socially constructed. Healthcare tweet chats have tremendous potential to motivate participants and encourage change. Much of this change comes from peer-to-peer support which has been shown to be highly effective in motivating change. Many participants share conversational and informational knowledge that they believe is valuable both to themselves and others.

Tweet from participant in the #BCCEU (Breast Cancer Social Media Europe) tweet chat
Tweet from participant in the #BCCEU (Breast Cancer Social Media Europe) tweet chat

Studies show that individuals enrolled in meaningful social networks have protective properties in terms of overall health and wellbeing. Healthcare tweet chats provide participants with a sense of community and valuable opportunities for meaningful exchange and positive interactions.

The impact of digital technology in healthcare is leading to changing expectations by health consumers who, along with a desire to share information and connect with others, increasingly want to interact and engage with their healthcare providers. Twitter has also facilitated the emergence of  the “patient opinion leader” an individual who is seen as an expert in chronic conditions such as cancer.  Gunther Eysenbach refers to this group as “Apomediaries” – individuals that assist in the process of information searching but do not act as a gatekeeper.

So, what’s in it for healthcare practitioners?

Dr Bryan Vartabedian (@Doctor_V) of Baylor College notes of social media “the greatest value of this medium is the breakdown of barriers that have traditionally come between doctor and patient.” It is encouraging to see the increasing participation by doctors in many healthcare tweet chats, reaching out and sharing information, but also listening too.

Twitter offers opportunities for healthcare to reach out to patients in new and valuable ways.

These [social media] tools help us reach so many more people; we can bring shared interactions into our practice and that is powerful … This isn’t an addition to your job. This is part of your job.  This is a conversation, and that is what we are trained to do … This is where our patients are these days and this is where we need to reach them. We can engage learners, patients and peers, and we are not limited by geography or time – Farris Timimi, M.D., medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social  Media.

Another striking feature is Twitter’s crowd-sourcing capacity which allows health consumers, researchers and practitioners tap into a global source of advice, support and information. Twitter also provides a unique opportunity to learn from patients’ direct experience shared during these chats.

If healthcare innovators and providers wish to remain relevant and connected to digitally enabled patients, they need to go where the conversations are – more and more those conversations are happening on Twitter and the evolving dynamic of the tweet chat is the best place to find them.

Reference

Eysenbach, G. (2008). Medicine 2.0: Social networking, collaboration, participation, apomediation, and openness. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 10(3), e22. doi:10.2196/jmir.1030

Posted in #HCSM, Conference, Digital Health, Doctor, E-Patient, Ehealth

The digital revolution and the era of the e-patient

I was delighted  to have the opportunity to share the stage with Dr Kendall Ho, a practicing emergency medicine specialist and founding director of the eHealth Strategy Office of the University of British Columbia, at the Universitas 21 Health Sciences Group annual meeting  held recently at University College Dublin. In a lively and engaging presentation Dr Ho spoke to delegates about how medical educators can embrace social media.

Also presenting was consultant rheumatologist,  Dr Ronan Kavanagh,  speaking on how doctors can use the tools of social media in their practice.

And my own presentation on the digital revolution and the era of the e-patient.

Posted in #HCSM, Infographics

How to take control of your online reputation

According to research compiled by US-based advertising agency MDG, 92 percent of consumers trust opinions posted online by other consumers, yet less than half of corporate communications professionals feel prepared to handle an online brand crisis.

Whether you are a doctor in private practice, or a marketer for pharma or a hospital brand, see this infographic below as a reality check for you if you care about how your brand is perceived online.

This infographic presents case studies of four major brands on building and maintaining a strong online reputation – advice that is just as relevant to your healthcare digital marketing efforts.

 

The Key to Building a Strong Online Reputation [Infographic]

 

Posted in Ehealth, Nursing

Social Media Use Within Nursing

See on Scoop.itHealth Care Social Media Monitor

The last decade has seen tremendous growth in the use of communication technology within healthcare. Along with the rise of various eHealth technologies during the early 2000s, the recent increased prevalence of socially-driven Internet technology (social media) has begun to impact the nursing profession in a number of salient fashions.

Nursing education and practice are two areas which have been influenced by the evolving communication modalities that social media technologies can facilitate. Regardless, the nursing profession as a whole has been remarkably slow to recognize and study these new modalities of communication facilitated by the evolution of social media.

See on www.medicine20congress.com