07 May Social networking can be good for your health
Editor’s Note: Dr. Barry Chaiken spoke at WTN Media’s Digital Healthcare Conference on the topic of “Social Networking: A New Tool to Engage the Clinical Community”. Click here to view his presentation.
MADISON – How has the current H1N1 09 – otherwise known as Swine Flu – outbreak been affected by social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter?
“I think that it’s the social networks have allowed people to share what’s going on allowing for us to monitor the flu better,” explained Dr. Barry Chaiken, co-chairman of WTN Media’s Digital Healthcare Conference 2009. “Without this level of communication, we wouldn’t have shared the cases across the country and the world.”
The downside, Chaiken said, is the spread of unverified information on social networks about the virus.
Chaiken kicked off the seventh annual conference Thursday afternoon speaking on “Social Networking: A New Tool to Engage the Clinical Community.” As the use of personal and professional social networking has exploded online in the past year, industries have created utilities to best use the technology. A recent
Mortenson Construction’s Jeff Eckstein agreed that social networking is and will continue to be an exponential part of health care in the future.
“It certainly has a peer-to-peer application,” commented Eckstein, noting that he’s currently on the LinkedIn network.
But how is the social networking utility best used in the health care arena? This, questioned JoAnne Becker of Transforming Healthcare in Chicago is the big question as providers are grappling with electronic health records. Said Becker, “We have less than 2 percent of hospitals that have electronic medical records. Now we’re talking about Twitter. It’s like a real disconnect.”
Chaiken said he’s not suggesting doctors take up tweeting, but rather that patient communities within a hospital could benefit from sharing information through a social network.
To sort it all out, it helps to know, Chaiken said, where you fit on the social technographics ladder. This system, developed by Forrester Research analysts Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff for their book, Groundswell, categorizes users by the amount they engage in social media, from inactive to being creators of much of the content. Where an individual falls in the spectrum, creator, critic, collector, joiner, spectator or inactive, can be a function of the access to broadband technology, your country’s culture as it relates to joining and, in some respects, your age, Chaiken explained.
Chaiken argued that many concepts covered in the Forrester Groundswell book can be applied to healthcare. Consumerism in health care makes it vital to interact and communicate with patients. Social networking can help make that connection, which can lead to improved quality, higher patient satisfaction, and lower costs.
Take, for example, the Global Health Alliance. Chaiken said this network is mapping connections between health care needs of people in developing countries with medical professionals and hospitals in the United States who can help with expertise and other resources.
)”> Medting is another good example of how social networking is being used in a clinical setting. This network connects medical professionals across the globe offering translation services and medical image sharing so medical professionals can collaborate on cases.
It’s important to note, Chaiken said, that social networks hold great potential for those in the health care delivery field. Certainly, experience in other industries highlights some big financial payoff and competitive advantages of a successful social networking strategy.
President Barack Obama raised nearly $1 billion and built targeted messaging networks by using social networking during the primary and general elections last year, for instance. Obama not only used is own election Web site, but blogs and a variety of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, plus Twitter, even announcing his vice presidential pick in an early morning tweet before his traditional press conference.
“Democrats were far ahead of Republicans in terms of participating on the technographics ladder. That gave Obama a huge advantage in raising money and organizing,” Chaiken said.
This, Chaiken said, will become the new model for running a successful political campaign.
So, too, can it become part of a healthcare organization’s successful communication strategy as consumers turn online more to seek information and take control of their health care.
In fact, Chaiken believes the payoff will be bigger, noting social networking has the potential to enhance health care products and services that extend the patient-caregiver relationship. Through social networking healthcare organizations can help improve care through motivated patient partners who, themselves, seek quality.
Additional Digital Healthcare Conference Coverage
- The healthcare IT executive perspective
- Health IT Stimulus Act: The future of healthcare IT will not come easy
- Mental illness and behavorial health pose challenges for electronic medical records
- Health care information technology spurs advances in personal medicine
- Marshfield Clinic delivers on clinical transformation
- Health technology at home: putting the power in the patient’s hands
- Scenario planning can help prepare your organization for the IT-driven future of health care
- Social networking can be good for your health
- Conference highlights Digital Health Information week
- Dr. Barry Chaiken: A new tool to engage the clinical community