Tag Archives: health

Listening for Change in Public Health and Social Marketing

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The ubiquity of social media means that just about every industry, from non-profits to sports to higher education to government – has hundreds of different blogs in each of these industries that are devoted to studying social media’s impact on pretty much everything. Within the organization, we’re seeing this same long tail manifested in the form of hundreds of different corporate social media accounts for individual product lines. To handle this growth, more and more companies are moving toward the Dandelion business model.

Now, as some of you may know, I work at a massive company where we support an enormous range of client needs including Defense, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Commercial, and non-profits. As one of the leads for our Digital Strategy & Social Media capability, I would field calls for social media help from people working on Public Health projects in the morning, followed by Intelligence Analysts in the afternoon, and reviewing a proposal for the Department of Defense that evening. As my team and I were spread thinner and thinner, we decided to instead create smaller teams of individuals who were able to dive deeper into the unique issues of a specific industry and how social media can help address those. One of those teams became our Digital Health team, led by Jacque Myers, Don Jones, and Mike Robert. This team has really dived deeper into how social media and digital technology is impacting public health, military and veteran health,  accessibility, and many other issues unique to the healthcare industry.

"The Health Digital" is a new blog focused on using digital technologies to help health organizations address key issues

I wanted to take this time to introduce their latest initiative, “The Health Digital,” a blog where they will be highlighting current digital health issues and exploring the ways in which technology can help (and sometimes, hinder) social change. If you’re interested in learning more about Jacque, Don, or about digital health issues, Don, as well as several other members from the Booz Allen team, will be participating in CDC’s National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media next week. If you’ll be in Atlanta next week for #hcmmconf, stop by and say hello and learn a little bit more about the work they’ve done with the Real Warriors campaign, the Military Health System, and the Virginia Hospital Center Medical Brigade.

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Crowdsourcing Our Health – Using Social Media to Educate and Unite the Public

“Social media on the Internet are empowering, engaging, and educating consumers and providers in health care.  This movement, known as Health 2.0, can be defined as: the use of social software and its ability to promote collaboration between patients, their caregivers, medical professionals, and other stakeholders in health.”

— Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, M.A., M.H.S.A, THINK-Health

Three different things happened to me last week that got me thinking about this concept of Health 2.0.  First, my colleague Jacque Brown started participating in the weekly Healthcomm chats on Twitter, I attended a meeting with the Center for Health Transformation, and I read this fantastic post by Ben Parr on Mashable.

Americans are increasingly relying on the Internet to find health information and connect with other people in similar situations.  According to the April

Source: iCrossing, How America Searches: Health and Wellness

Source: iCrossing, How America Searches: Health and Wellness

2008, “The Wisdom of Patients: Healthcare Meets Online Social Media,” report, more than 60% of Americans have used the Internet to find health information, and as of January 2008, the Internet rivaled physicians as the leading source for health information.  The 2008 Edelman Trust Barometer also determined that people tend to trust “a person like me” more than authority figures from business, government, and media.

Combine this with the fact that research shows that a stable and supportive social network improves health outcomes for people with a wide range of conditions, from the common cold to cancer, and the potential for social media to fundamentally change how we view our healthcare, how we view our health, is phenomenal.

Social media is bridging the gap between health and healthcare.  Imagine a world where your doctor calls you to make sure everything is ok after noticing an increase in the number of your Facebook status updates where you said you have a headache.  What if you could screen new doctors by viewing past surgeries of theirs on YouTube or by reading their blogs?  What if your entire medical history was available, securely, online?   Imagine being able to easily track, monitor, and research every illness, pain, cold, and headache you’ve ever had – you think we’d come across some interesting (and possibly life-saving) trends??

Through websites like Google Health, WebMD, and PatientsLikeMe, initiatives like Twit2Fit and the weekly HealthComm chats, and many other examples, we’re already starting to realize some of these benefits.  But to truly transform our country’s health, our government needs to get involved as well.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ new Center for New Media is a good start, but it’s but one small step toward Health 2.0.  Before we can truly realize Health 2.0 (can’t we think of term that doesn’t use the “2.0” moniker?), there are several very valid issues, along with several perceived barriers.

  • Privacy – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule provides federal protections for personal health information; However, personal health records (PHRs) shared outside of covered entities online are not protected by HIPAA.
  • Security – 13% of respondents to a Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) survey revealed their facility had experienced a data breach.
  • AccessibilitySection 508 requires that Federal agencies’ electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Resistance to Change – Healthcare is perhaps the oldest, largest, and most complex institution in the United States, and stakeholders from every aspect of the industry will have to adapt to a new way of doing business.

All very real issues, right?  However, as much as some people would like us to believe, these issues are NOT barriers to Health 2.0.  Our Government can and has overcome these issues before, but for it to continue, we must address these issues first. This is what Jacque likes to call the four stages of Health 2.0 denial.

  1. This is an invasion of privacy! – However, the “entities” mentioned above are ensuring HIPAA compliance and the caretakers who will more than likely be on the receiving end of PHR sharing already know of an individual’s medical conditions. Google has taken additional steps to ensure privacy by only making links available through the direct email address through which the notification was sent and making the links expire after 30 days.
  2. What about information security?!? – If the intelligence community can use social media to communicate and collaborate about our nation’s intelligence and we’re comfortable with our entire banking records now available online, I think we can figure out how to make our health records accessible AND secure.
  3. What about people who don’t have the internet? – 80% of adults in the US have mobile phones, and some countries are already piloting government-provided phones for health reasons.
  4. But this is just plain scary – When I first logged on to Google Health, I was overwhelmed at seeing my mortality displayed in front of me. Likewise, physicians and other groups are used to doing things the way they feel comfortable. Even if we do see the value in social media, it’s a transformational change that is going to take time and both formal and informal support to embrace.

Health 2.0 isn’t going to happen overnight – it’s going to take the time, dedication, resources, and cooperation of the general public, our government, Big Pharma, insurance providers, first responders, caregivers, and many others to make it happen.

If you’re interested in learning more about Health 2.0, there are much more qualified people than me who are out there making this a reality – I’m just someone who’s keenly interested in doing what I can to make it happen.

Additional Resources:

There are MANY more – the links above are simply my go-to resources.  If you have more resources, please add them here in the comments so that others may benefit too!

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Putting Social Media Before Your Health?

Image courtesy of Flickr user hiyori13

Image courtesy of Flickr user hiyori13

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the key success factors to deploying social media in an organization is that someone is “a champion.” Personally, I’m living this every single day at Booz Allen – people from across my company are constantly asking for a presentation on social media at their all-hands meetings, I get calls to go brief clients on the power of social media, I get hundreds of emails from people asking me for my advice on something to do with social media, I give dozens of briefings at external events, and answer any and all questions from my colleagues. Most of all, I get tired.  Very.  Tired.

This fact – working long hours and getting very tired is a staple of every single successful implementation of social media at a large organization. There’s always that core group of passionate social media enthusiasts who will go above and beyond to make social media successful – from spending their own money to create social media rewards to volunteering their time to function as an ad hoc help desk.  That group usually consists of anywhere between 1-10 people, depending on the size of the organization, and that core group HAS to be the most passionate users.  They are more than just change champions, they are the de facto social media help desk, the “gurus,” and the intellectual capital leaders – they ARE social media at their organization.  This passion creates a domino effect – people start following these leaders and the core group begins expanding and expanding until it slowly sweeps across the organization. I, like Andrea Baker explained in my last post, have been inspired by Gary V to keep pushing, to keep advocating in what I believe, and to remain completely and overwhelmingly passionate about it. This approach has proven to be incredibly beneficial to my organization’s social media efforts and to my career.

But at what cost?  I left work early today because my eyes, sinuses, and head were killing me. I realized that over the last few months, that’s happened to me a lot more often that it used to. I’m taking more sick days. I’m finding myself completely drained by Friday afternoon that I don’t even want to go out. I’m spending less and less time with my family and friends as more of my time is now taken up with building our firm’s social media capability.  I don’t have the time to spend just going out to lunch with my team because I’ve always got some sort of meeting.  I’m working 12-14 hours a day, and I know that it’s not healthy for me to sustain this, I don’t know if there’s anything that I can give up and still be confident that our social media capability will continue to grow.  Is this one reason why some social media implementations succeed and others fail – their core group of passionate users doesn’t expand resulting in the the core group burning themselves out or giving up?

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts – do you find yourselves in a similar situation?  Take this very short and very informal and unscientific survey and let me know what you think.  I’ll keep you updated with any interesting results that I find.

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