Posted by Christa Chaffinch
Here is an excellent roundup of 50 physicians and medical professors you should be following on Twitter. The list was compiled based off of level of activity, relevance, education/entertainment factor and number of followers. I already follow a couple of these (Kevin Chang, Paul Mather and Neil Mehta, for example) but it looks like there are a lot more here updating on current events, science and medicine news, research and specialty information.
I find Twitter to be an excellent source of scouting, research and news - it's updated constantly; quickly provides links to articles, videos, images, books, etc.; and can be scanned and sorted easily. The flip side is that I can never actually keep up with my Twitter feed - who knows what I'm missing!
Posted by Christa Chaffinch
At the Global Health and Innovation Conference, I attended multiple sessions devoted to effective health-related collaborations. In the process of hearing these speakers relay their experiences and lessons, I learned a great deal about some good work that is taking place all over the world, and I'd like to share.
We Can End This - This is a site to teach consumers about the issue of hunger in the US, raise money and awareness, and provide ways you can volunteer, assist or share resources. The initiative is a collaboration between social media sites like Mashable, large for-profit food companies like Tyson, ConAgra and Pepsi, and non-profits like Share Our Strength and Feeding America. They've incorporated multi-media, Twitter, a blog, email listserves and live events, such as sessions at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
7 Billion Actions - This is a site that was launched when the world's population reached 7 billion. Many saw this milestone as a negative thing - resources are scarce in many places in the world, and hunger, lack of health care and medicine, and a shortage of potable drinking water are serious concerns in a number of countries. 7 Billion Actions focuses on humanity's positive stories, and accepts and posts songs, films and written pieces that highlight praise-worthy work around the globe. This initiative is a collaboration between National Geographic, Foursquare, Jonhson & Johnson, the International Telecommunication Union, the MDG Achievement Fund, and the company SAP.
Grameen Creative Lab - this group pairs large investors with entrepreneurs who are looking to develop socially impactful and sustainable businesses. "Social businesses" are ones that address local issues that for-profit companies cannot or will not address (due to lack of profit, or resource or logistical challenges), are started by locals, and that develop solutions needed by those who live in the area. The GCL works with corporations to set up funds for social businesses, helps small social businesses become certified, supports and publishes economic research, and coordinates large-scale events. You can see a number of successul examples of their work here.
New Empire Builders - this is a collaboration between a number of foundations and not-for-profits (like Cause Shift and the Case Foundation) that focuses heavily on real work being done that makes the world a better place. They have a presence in a variety of fields, including health innovations. They have an active blog and weekly newsletter, and provide people who are interested in any of a variety of industries (education, government, marketing, medicine and technology, just to name a few) key resources and information to get involved in a huge number of innovative projects.
In light of these examples of modern collaboration, I sat in on a talk by Scott Henderson from Cause Shift, where he described four important points about collaborating effectively. They are:
1. That collaboration offers a competitive advantage. No matter what your field, collaborating with like-minded organizations in which you combine staff, financial and knowledge resources will make you stronger.
2. That sharing knowledge and skills is good, but we should also be sharing and spreading out rewards. We all know that economic resources aren't evenly distributed, and this is a call to give back whenever possible.
3. Set simple rules, and avoid complex strategies. This eases workflow and vision creation, and enables efficiency and mastery.
4. Step back after the rules are set; see what happens, and stay resilient.
Posted by Yelena Spector
Social networking has altered medical school admissions in many ways. While not all medical schools have yet declared their roles in social media, many are participating in everyday interactions with potential students through the use of social networks. Communications between potential students have gained great popularity amongst medical schools through application statuses and updates via text message or social media sites. Some medical schools have utilized tools such as Facebook to conduct orientation for incoming students; this prevents costly coordination fees and provides convenience for students and staff. With proper regulation around privacy and professionalism; the use of social media in an academic setting has great potential for student engagement and health education improvement.
Posted by resilie2
Growing technologies in the medical field are really starting to make their presence known amongst doctors. It is amazing to see how the majority of physicians own an apple product such as the iPhone or iPad, along with the many others who plan on purchasing such items within the next year. The applications and social media networks on these mobile devices can assist doctors in several ways, such as prescribing medicine, accessing medical records, and even looking up health information that doesn't necessarily pertain to their practices. Great job by SpinaBifidaInfo.com for providing this fabulously informative image!
What is evidence? I ask myself this question fairly often since I work in innovation. In trying to generate disruptive and transformative ideas, it is important to understand what has been "established", and why. The next question is: should it change? If so, how?
In Medicine, evidence often comes in the form of an article published in a peer-reviewed journal; hopefully the research demonstrates the principles of scientific rigor. In Law, evidence must conform to a number of rules and regulations in order to be admissible in court. In short: established disciplines try to ensure that decisions and future actions are based on good information, and thus create standards for how that information is captured and how it should be used.
This is a good thing. Not just anything should be considered "high quality" - if that were the case, we might see McDonald's publishing studies on the health merits of Happy Meals and McNuggets.
Unfortunately, though, the path to high quality information - or in other words, evidence - is resource-intensive and time-consuming, and requires expertise that only resides in a certain subset of the population. This rigorous process - as important as it is - no doubt excludes more than just "bad information". It can also exclude new types of information, which may be useful but which don't fit established standards for "evidence".
Case in point: A recent article in Technology Review discusses how the patient social-networking site PatientsLikeMe came to the conclusion that lithium did not slow the course of ALS. Eighteen months later, the journal Lancet Neurology published a study with the same conclusion. I think it is likely that many researchers did not take the conclusion seriously - or even know about it - until it was published in the Lancet.
This bears the question: what types of information (potential evidence) are being overlooked in patient social networking sites, and should Medicine be paying more attention? I could imagine, for instance, that a community of patients could identify chief complaints associated with diseases that are currently not in the published research literature. This could improve diagnosis. Patients could also identify previously unknown drug contraindications, just by describing their experiences with other patients.
Now, I'm not suggesting that we take information from patient communities and immediately consider it evidence, but shouldn't we consider its potential utility and find a way to apply it appropriately? I envision a physician-patient interaction going like so:
Mrs. Smith: Doctor, I was wondering if Fakeprofin might help my symptoms.
Doctor: Well, Mrs. Smith, Fakeprofin does address the symptoms you describe, but I want to make sure it is okay to take with your other medications. Let me see here....(type type type)...Hmmm...There are no clinical trial findings available yet. However, it looks like patients similar to you on PatientsLikeMe have had no issues and have had favorable experiences, so let's give it a cautious try. I want you to follow-up with me in 2 weeks or sooner if you experience any of these problems....
Okay, I'll stop rambling now - but hopefully you get the idea!
I joined Foursquare today. I am officially a newbie!
Why did it take me so long? Aside from a hectic schedule and generally being overwhelmed by information, I quite frankly didn't want folks to know my whereabouts at that level of detail. The gaming aspect alone was not enough to draw me - I could care less about earning points by checking in to cool placees, and becoming a mayor. For me, the tipping point was internally motivated; I thought, "Where might this go in the future?" and suddenly my brain imploded. I did a bit of research.
At its heart, Foursquare is basically a framework for incentivizing human behavior, using certain gaming principles. Users "check in" to locations and earn points and badges, and share information about locations with other Foursquare "friends". Right now, the incentives are basically popularity/social networking and competition. This is usual with these sorts of Web 2.0 start-ups, and for some people, that's enough of a draw. However, with additional financial incentives (e.g., check in here for 10% off this doohicky), Foursquare could change the world by better attracting a huge user population: consumers. It's already happening. For example, Starbucks created its own Foursquare badge in May to try to appeal to its more loyal customers, and of course Foursquare has plans to broaden its appeal (and financial incentives are a biggie.)
So in the immediate future, sure, folks might start using Foursquare to get a deal here and there - but what might come next? This is where my brain liquifies - not in a bad way. Imagine all the incentives and services that can be provided to humans that are geo-trackable, tagged with information (some profile-based, some near-real-time), plugged-in and engaged. This is an advertiser's dream. However, if the API remains open and the community can keep developing apps (i.e. purposes), the appeal will reach far beyond advertisers. Users themselves will create uses, demand functionalities, and dream up new and interesting ways of overlapping the virtual and physical worlds. You could do a voice search for the nearest person certified in CPR to help you with chest compressions (maybe they'll have a CPR badge?) You can find a Boy Scout to walk you across the street. You can find a random person nearby who also happens to be craving avocado icecream. You and everyone else in a given restaurant can complain together about the loud dude in the corner - God he's annoying, and look at all the bars he checked in to before coming here. Wait - is that the mayor?
I'm being silly, but hopefully you get the idea.
On January 11, we had a guest come in and shake things up a bit here. Jen McCabe Gorman gave a really engaging talk (which can be found here if you’ve got an hour to kill and feel like you could use some stimulation) about medicine, social media, and how the two can be mashed together to help you become a participant in your care as opposed to simply the object of your doctor’s care.
We had a record turnout for her morning session – literally, I think we set a record for attendance! – and then she took the rest of her day to brainstorm with smaller groups of us about topics like patient safety and communication skills (See inset pictures of the white boards... it's okay if you don't understand them. I don't think I do anymore, either. But while she was drawing them, they really made sense!). It was really interesting to see the crowd really start trying to see things from a different perspective, that of the "expert patient" or e-Patient. Even a youngster like me (almost 3 years here which is a drop in the bucket for some folks) has been indoctrinated into thinking that an “expert" must have a bunch of letters after his or her name and run a medical school or a hospital. Jen’s perspective was, in a word used by many folks at the presentation, refreshing!
And now for a non-solicited plug: You should really follow Jen on twitter for awesome scouting tidbits, and get involved in her #getupandmove initiative. It’s a way to challenge your friends to improve their health by making microchoices about their activities. Also, you should check Jen out on LinkedIn to see the many projects she has and is working on currently.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll look at Jen’s profile and think, “She’s just about the same age as me… what the heck have I been doing with my life?!” Yeah. She’s that awesome. And productive. And hopefully a collaborator for many moons to come!
Relatedly, there are now hundreds of hospitals who are finally "getting it" as far as utilizing social media tools to create better strategies for caring for their patients. See if your local hospital is on the list!
Today I stumbled upon a really strong example of how certain subsets of consumers are willing to sacrifice privacy in exchange for what I'll call "social convenience". Blippy, which is just in beta and was recently highlighted in a New York Times article, is an online social network that lets you share your recent credit card purchases with your friends. I haven't actually used the service, but from the description, it seems to do this automatically in a "Twitter-like" microblogging fashion - a type of passive, social information-sharing. There are, of course, ways to restrict what is shared with whom, but in general I think this is a step in the direction of transparency. The question is: will people find benefit in sharing where they are and what they are buying (and for how much) with their friends?
My guess is yes, but I am very curious about what the early adopters will look like, since users of this service will need to have, for example, (a) access to the internet, (b) a credit card, (c) available funds on their credit card, (d) an interest in shopping and purchase-related information, and (e) friends who possess characteristics "a" through "e". I look forward to seeing how this one pans out!
I heard a segment on NPR the other day about mobile device technology etiquette. (As a side note, I notice that most of my posts are inspired by things I hear on NPR. What would I do without you, public radio?) It basically laid out some ground rules for when and how it's appropriate to use mobile devices when you're dating someone. In this new and strange age of technology, I suppose rules about this kind of thing were bound to happen. For me, this is a really interesting area to get into.
e-Patients are getting more and more press lately. This morning I heard some people on the radio talking about how folks are using the internet for support and information. They even dropped the Patients Like Me name. What surprises me more than anything is that it's taking so long to get the medical community to pay attention to the social media explosion.
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