17 Best Posts in 2009- A Year of Social Media and Health Care

2009 was an important year for getting healthcare more up-to-date with web technologies. We have a long way to go: healthcare marketers have begun the process of sorting out the meanings of internet media. 2009 was also a year of extreme noise and echo-chambering. But that’s OK: that happens all the time with novel technologies, especially when there’s little understanding of them nor clarity about their purposes and uses and limits.

On this blog, I’ve always aimed to express my perspective on these technologies (which I believe is rather unique – and it’s this uniqueness which I hope provide you with something of value). Prior to 2009, it was a bit of a lonely place to discuss how health care could best adopt 21st Century technologies. But 2009 brought a first flood of attention. I believe Twitter may deserve credit: many hospital and other health care organizations never understood the Web much, and blogging must have seemed like a purely terrifying experience. But Twitter offered the uninitiated with a simple interface and connection.

As the year moved on, I decided to launch a Twitter chat for registered nurses – and the public in general. The hashtag is #RNchat and you can follow @RNchat on Twitter and subscribe to the blog which posts transcripts of the chats. Since most of the Twitter chats on Twitter are about how to talk about how to talk about talking about Twitter and other social media, I figured at least one of them should be about something that’s actually real. I’m kidding of course. No, I’m not. :)

At any rate, I’ve collected some of my best posts for the year. All of these posts are related to health care – although #3 only very indirectly (I had to include it because it serves as a release from all the social media hype I’ve been hearing for years). Scan the list and pick a few to read and share. Here are the 17 posts:

  1. 140 Health Care Uses for Twitter – I wrote this post because I wanted to start an open conversation about the opportunities we have with technologies and the cultural and regulatory limits stemming them. Years earlier, I had tired of paper medical records and bizarre bureaucratic rituals which slowed the pace and effectiveness of patient care. The idea of using micro-sharing communications as a way to “cut to the chase” in patient care had been working in my mind for some time. This post is the result.
  2. Pharma, Presence Marketing and You – Not having a marketing background – and yet fully understanding the importance of marketing in health care – I’m fascinated at the stumbling blocks beset before pharmaceutical and medical device companies: both from regulatory agencies and the companies’ own prejudices about what marketing means.
  3. Twitter & LSD – 25 Similarities – OK – is this a health care related post? Well, I consider humor a part of health care. And I do touch on the addictive qualities of Twitter in this post. I plan a series of posts in 2010 on Internet Addiction. So, go ahead – read this. And definitely tweet it out!
  4. The Social Capital Algorithm – A simple visual way to break down the utility of social media into simple concepts.
  5. Social Capital: An Accounting View of New Media – I started my career in accounting. As such, I don’t have much tolerance for vague references. And yet we use them all the time. This is just another way to look at the differences between financial capital and social capital.
  6. 1,001 Remarkable Pharma People to Follow on Twitter – A tease of a title. But I explain why you don’t need 1,001 people to follow to get value out of Twitter. Since this post was written, the FDA had a Public Hearing and you can follow the Twitter hashtag  #FDAsm for the latest.
  7. 66 Ominous Predictions About Twitter in Healthcare – This was my attempt at bringing some sanity (albeit humorously) into the social media echo-chamber. Those of us who are truly passionate about these technologies must challenge them. (Some of the Pharma predictions are interesting in light of the Public Hearing later on in the year.)
  8. Healthcare on Google Wave – Google Wave was one of those hyped Google products. I think it’s a powerful set of technologies, even though I don’t use it much myself (the API needs to be developed upon before it becomes truly usable). This is an embed of a Healthcare wave, demonstrating real-time embedding of content from Wave to blog.
  9. A Clinical Infusion of Google Wave -A hypothetical use case for Google Wave in the clinical setting.
  10. Healthcare’s Google-Facebook-Twitter Platform – Questioning the possibility of a gigantic healthcare social platform.
  11. Zen and the Art of the Tweet – Again, the theme of the health care effects of social technologies on our lives.
  12. An Interview with #hcsm Founder @danamlewis
  13. An Interview with @EndreJofoldi of HealthMash
  14. How to Make Health Care Remarkable – The @ePatientDave Interview
  15. Pharma & Social Media: Best Strategic Learning Investment for 2010 – Discussion of an eBook compiled by Ellen Hoenig about what things Pharma should focus on learning in 2010.
  16. Privacy Matters: Dirty Little Secrets Are Essential to Your Health – My attempt at resurrecting privacy from the social media rumors of its death.
  17. Can We Ever End Social Media Nonsense? – My concerns and hopes for the future of the so-called Social Web.

I’m anticipating 2010 to be a fast-paced year with many developments technologically, politically, economically and culturally. I’m hoping that the healthcare community not only continues to learn these technologies but also starts to think reasonably and productively about how to become better organizations.

Social Media won’t make a bad organization good, nor a good organization great. No, people do that. People with brains and creativity and chutzpah. People who have the courage to do what’s never been done before. Are you one of them? Or are you a cog in a machine that’s doomed to shut-down long before you retire? Either way, it’s never too late to change your part of the world.

I love you, my dear readers. Enjoy 2010!

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Can We Ever End Social Media Nonsense?

Tweety Bird

Disclosure: I’m fascinated with Technology in general and social software and communities in particular. I’m one of Twitter’s biggest fanboys (here’s proof). I blog and  tweet often about these media because I believe it’s important that we understand our relationship with Technology (and for me, Technology is more than just gadgets – for instance: I consider Law, Democracy, Religion and Capitalism technologies – but that’s another post).

I also believe that we need better or more original conversations about the Web and its deepening influences on our lives, our businesses, our sciences and our health care. Social Media pundits (or however they refer to themselves: gurus, evangelists, mavens) for too long have held the dominant voice in these discussions.

One phenomenon which our Web has engendered is the ability for virtually anyone to express their opinions and experiences and perspectives in accordance with their mastery of media. And therein lies a pesky issue: one’s accumulation of social attention for a particular field doesn’t always correlate with their expertise.

Over the last decade, many brilliant contributors have offered important and refreshing perspectives on the promises of the web. But some of these ideas have yet to be vetted and validated by closer scrutiny and scientific inquiry. The truth is not always intuitive. It’s easy, therefore, for appealing ideas to have fundamental flaws.

Here are three beliefs which many social media enthusiasts propound virtually daily. I’m not going to say that these beliefs are wrong – or right. But I think we need to scrutinize them much more deeply and publicly before they become permanently embedded in our collective conscious.

  1. Privacy Is Dead. Is it? In some regards, my opinion is that it is. Furthermore, I think that may not be such a bad thing: opening ourselves up can provide community benefits. Health care data has the potential to improve our medical knowledge – and yet we have many critical concerns about how we share that kind of data. Privacy is more than data. We shouldn’t make the mistake of confusing one aspect of privacy with other features which make us human. Don’t be too surprised if privacy resurrects itself in 2010.
  2. Social Media Is Democratizing. Are you sure? Our species is replete with examples of disappointed hopes that novel technologies release us from cunning manipulation and the concentration of dangerous powers. Don’t get me wrong: elements of our evolving interactive technologies are doing wonderful things for democratic efforts. The danger in thinking that these media are absolutely democratizing is that we will acquire a mentality which overlooks those tiny dislocations of freedom which lead to tyranny – and it may be us who abet terror. For it is possible that future tyrannies will not be some centrally-governed dictatorship: rather, it may be ourselves who generate communities of sibling rivalry.
  3. Traditional Marketing Is Dead. No, it isn’t dead. Traditional marketing was just incomplete. New media is helping to complete the circle or marketing life cycles. There’s no doubt that marketing will have to undergo radical changes in beliefs and hypotheses and models and practices. Why? Because realtime conversations will forever take place and businesses owe it to themselves to invest in the training and efforts to be remarkable with their ears and eyes and voices. What’s dead in traditional marketing is talk-to-the-hand and clockwork-orange marketing. Most traditional marketing last century was atrociously mediocre and annoying – utterly lacking in creativity and kindness and care. All that the new media are doing is making it clear that the cost of those approaches are skyrocketing.

We need smarter voices to contribute to our understanding of the Web. The marketers have had the loudest voices – some of them have been quite enlightening. But marketing is a tiny component of how we can use the Web. (Plus: Marketing isn’t a science. Physics is a science. We need more scientists.)

We need more physicians and nurses and physicists and journalists to profess their views. But in order for them to do any of that, they will have to master the skills demanded of new media. Just because many of these voices have been a bit missing in online discussions doesn’t mean that the louder voices of amateurish meme-makers are the right ones.

There’s a lot of nonsense that takes place on tech blogs and social media blogs. Twitter has become a virtual cesspool of retweeted rubbish. Can we end all this social media nonsense? Probably not. But we can counter-balance it with the wisdom of those who have deeper and broader real-life experiences which the social medi(ocrity) lack.

I hope that in 2010 we hear a lot more skeptics (note: skepticism is not the same as cynicism).

I hope that in 2010 journalism makes a come-back. And I hope it doesn’t take a painful failure of public mutual misleading on Twitter to demonstrate the need for rigorous journalism.Traditional journalist may have missed the opportunity of a lifetime to learn the powers of the Web. But the newer generation will have to do the hard work of dovetailing the structures of journalistic discipline and integrity with the needs of a real-time Web.

I hope that in 2010 more  doctors and  nurses start blogging and tweeting.

For example: there’s a  chat on Twitter which aims to discuss how healthcare communications can improve patient relations via social media: but that conversation needs to involve a lot more clinical practitioners and patients who more fully understand the nuances of health care in all its forms. It’s a start in the right direction, but it won’t evolve unless more diverse and experienced perspectives enter the conversations.

We need to be clear in our understanding of Technology and the Web. We need to dampen the retweeting of nonsense and pay more attention to what matters most. I’ll close this post with a message from  William Stafford. It’s the most important sequence of words every written about social media (too bad William can’t blog and tweet):

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

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Privacy Matters: Dirty Little Secrets Are Essential to Your Health

Psst. Come closer here so I can whisper in your delicate ear: I have dirty little secrets. Not bodies-in-the-basement dirty little secrets, but those tiny wishes and memories and thoughts that arise within the experiences of being human. I keep them in a province called Privacy. Entrance is by invitation only.

You have them too. You and I could get very hurt if our dirty little secrets were pried from our hearts without our consent. Our very integrity as human beings would assaulted by shame or guilt or betrayal or depression or anger or abandonment or terror. In short, our health would be compromised. Health. The very word conveys whole. Health is the integrity to be alive. But integrity isn’t perfection.

And therein lies the beauty of our dirty little secrets: they remind us of our limits; they keep us from making mistakes; and they inspire us to act on desires we pain ourselves to suppress for too long.

THE BARE NAKED WEB

Every day, as the Web expands and quickens and infiltrates its way across and through our world, the boundaries of our privacy diminish. There’s not much we can do: Technology does what it wants eventually – one way or another. What does it want? I’ll pass on that for now but I can tell you this: technology doesn’t want your privacy. The question for you then is: do you want your privacy?

For Privacy is more than just data and information. In that sense, privacy – in the face of technology – could be considered dying or even dead. We will have to accept that aspects of our privacy will be undermined. But the more fundamental components of Privacy are far more important and vital and eternal than mere data. They are: dignity, solitude and healing.

THE HOLY TRINITY OF PRIVACY

The purpose of any civilization is to defend dignity. Once a people – or person – loses dignity they are finished. Nothing is more painful than the loss of dignity. Even in death, it’s the dignity of our dislocation from this life that matters. We must remember this when thinking about our relationship with technology. Dignity is even more important than private information: I may have to violate your privacy in order to save your life. But I don’t have to wreck your dignity. And yet, without privacy in our lives our dignity cannot mature.

Solitude isn’t loneliness. Solitude is a marvelous paradox. Solitude is what happens when we access the greater world through a private connection. Without solitude, there is no peace. Without peace there is no health. Without privacy there is no solitude.

Healing can be conceived as a communal process of enabling natural processes. But ultimately, healing is a private matter: all of us who’ve been wounded – by broken skin or heart or pride – need moments of privacy to rest and reflect and hope.

THE SECRET OF SECRETS REVEALED

All this leads us back to our dirty little secrets: the secrets we keep are there to defend ourselves, foster our wholeness and provide our humanity. Until we find the freedom or courage or need to turn, face and name our darker parts, keeping dirty little secrets is part of a life-long healing process. Dirty little secrets are private messages from your own life telling you – and only you – what work you have to do. They’re private because you’re the only one who can do the work.

Lastly, keeping our dirty little secrets is a way to protect others. They’re part of communal health. Don’t believe me? Go ask her: how much better in bed was he than me? She may or may not be in a mood to reveal her secret – depending on how you treat her – but I’m pretty sure you really don’t wanna know the answer. See what I mean? :)

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Pharma & Social Media: Best Strategic Learning Investment for 2010

My friend Ellen Hoenig Carlson compiled an ebook of insights and suggestions for helping the pharmaceutical and other health care industries adapt to 21st Century challenges and opportunities. Ellen is editor of AdvanceMarketWoRx and she asked me to contribute to her project. She’s sincerely devoted to the goal of improving pharmaceutical marketing processes in order to deliver the best possible points of care to patients. She shares valuable thoughts and links and content on Twitter and you can follower her  here.

In addition to myself, contributors include an anthropologist, an e-Patient, some consultants and a healthcare recruiter.

All of the contributing perspectives are unique. For example, Andrew Spong PhD, founder of #hcsmeu (a Twitter chat for European healthcare and social media passionates), invokes Martin Heidegger when discussing Authenticity. How often do you get that in the context of health care marketing?

Susanah Fox, strategist for PEW, talks about how cultural changes affect patient advocacy. And my Twitter mates  Steve Woodruff,  Jonathan Richman,  Wendy Blackburn,  John Mack, and  Angela Dunn offer their visions and advice.

You can download the ebook  here. Read it: it’s important that the public and marketers understand our relationship with Technology. Marketing – especially pharmaceutical and healthcare – is about achieving a simple goal: connecting points of suffering with points of care. That’s not easy. It’s hard and requires creativity, ethics, discipline, knowledge, wisdom, leadership and hope.

Best Strategic Learning Investment in 2010

Please share your thoughts with me here or approach me on Twitter. You can follow my antics on Twitter  here.

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Digital Vertigo and the Cult of Authenticity

vertigo

When status quos collapse, for whatever reasons, are their replacements necessarily better? Does the demise of traditional media powers mean that new media powers will lead to more Democracy? Will cultivated professions which require years of training and mistakes and experience – such as Medicine – give way to amateurs who can succeed in creating appearances of Authenticity?

Last century, not everybody could publish their thoughts without expending some form of considerable energy. Now, with Twitter, anyone can tell the world what s/he thinks at virtually zero expense (save the time value of their tweets). This is no doubt a radical shift in communications and publishing and connecting.

It’s easy to call this democratizing. But is it? Or is what’s happening a radical shift from one era of power dynamics to another: one where those who accumulate the greatest amount of social capital emerge as the major powers, powers which will dominate and rule over a new kind of oligarchic imperialism? One where a few hold sway to enormous influence while the many busy themselves in self-reinforced delusions of democratic liberation, confusing technological connection with the human kind?

Real-time media like Twitter sure do give off the seductive appearances of level playing fields where I can connect with you and you me. But what are the essential realities of the evolving Web? Are they balances-of-power? Or are they in fact towers-of-power, new status quos which create a condition of what Andrew Keen calls Digital Vertigo?

Here is the Antichrist of Silicon Valley himself discussing the dangers of the  Real-time web and Power.

We are living through the inflection phase of technological evolution. It’s hard to see beyond the exponential curve rising above our heads. Today’s gifts may be tomorrow’s sorrows. With Twitter, I can tell a friend something that makes her day. In the not-too-distant future, though, someone else just might detonate a bomb with a tweet. And then we can say Goodbye to Twitterville.

Is the Web bringing forth more opportunity than danger? Granted, it can’t be stopped at this point. But: may one promise of the Web (Democracy) eventually be betrayed by one danger (Tyranny)? Are we truly creating a Digital Level Playing Field or might we in fact be creating the conditions for chronic Digital Vertigo complicated by the illusion of Authenticity?

What do you think?

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