Archive for October, 2012

Healthcare reform presents opportunities for social media

October 28, 2012 Leave a comment

During an excellent session at the recent Health Care Social Media Summit called Health care reform meets social media: Cultivating online communities to prevent and manage illness, Dan Hinmon of Hive Strategies and Willamette Valley Medical Center walked us through the challenges and opportunities at this juncture in our history.

It’s definitely an interesting time, as Hinmon pointed out:

* Healthcare profits are dropping, as costs are increasing. Medicare and Medicaid payments are below actual cost.

* Financial pressures are increasing, with people with insurance unable to pay high deductibles.

* Collaboration and wellness are among solutions to address the challenges.

* Payment models are changing from fee-for-service to global payments. It’s all about working better with communities.

Here’s where the opportunity comes: Patient education is important… delivering good information to help people make good decisions  improve their health behavior, bringing together groups of patients for better care. The focus shifts to the health and wellness of the community over stealing patients from competitors. The goal is to keep people out of the hospital. Health care is no longer episodic; it’s something you think about every day. Price is the driver.

What skills are needed in this new environment?  (1) Strategist, (2) Content, largely educational, (3) Community building, (4) Managing online patient communities.

Hinmon pointed to Diabetic Connect as an example of an online patient community geared to chronic disease management. He cited FeverBee as an excellent resource for those starting and managing online communities. He mentioned Wellaho, a community where patients and health systems pay to manage health conditions.

Yes, these are times of big challenges — and major opportunities!




Patient communities at heart of health care social media (#hcsm) revolution

October 27, 2012 1 comment

As the husband of a metastatic breast cancer thriver, I jumped at the opportunity to attend a breakout session at the Health Care Social Media Summit called Online social networks: A benefit to patients, physicians. The panel, moderated by Dr. Farris Timimi of Mayo Clinic, included speakers from Inspire, CaringBridge and EmpowHER. All three have helped my wife at various points in her cancer journey.

Efforts such as these give me a passion to push ahead with health care social media. To me, patient communities comprise the heart of the health care social media revolution. Our family has benefited first-hand from the honest, heart-felt sharing of these online groups. We have been empowered with information to help physicians come up with better treatment options. We have heard from women from around the globe with the exact type of cancer who received the precise course of treatment. We have learned about their challenges with aspects such as insurance coverage… and how they overcame them.

So it was awesome for me to shake the hand of Brian Loew, CEO of Inspire, which has been particularly helpful lately. Lowe shared during the session about how patients create an enormous amount of value by  sharing in this strong, safe platform. He spoke about how they are connecting to improve health. (By the way, it was interesting to note that Inspire moderates its forums to prevent craziness. Inspire bans 1 in 5,000.) He noted that Inspire does not replace the role of the doctor, a concern of some when it launched. I found it encouraging when an open-minded physician in the audience said that doctors could learn about new treatments outside of established  guidelines by listening to what’s said in patient communities.

Meanwhile, Sonya Mehring, founder of CaringBridge, said she thinks doctors should direct patients and caregivers to resources such as CaringBridge. Mehring  pointed out that 70 percent of the content is created by caregivers.  She founded CaringBridge back in 1997 and has seen it become such an important hub of communication for families and friends as the Internet has evolved. In fact, soon mobile will surpass traditional web traffic.

A representative from EmpoweHER (sorry I missed her name) noted that nine of 10 women seek health information online. It’s important to ensure they find good information.

After chatting briefly with Loew, I bumped into Dr. Timimi. He said the discussion points to tremendous opportunity for healthcare providers — one that affects the bottom line, with metrics such as patient satisfaction and quality playing an increasingly big role in funding. He added that online communities can contribute to clinical efficiency, as educated patients come better prepared for conversations with physicians. And patient communities offer great potential for research, he noted. He encouraged me to identify and encourage early adopters in the medical community to embrace social media. I plan to do just that!

Steering the Social Media Health Care Ship full-speed ahead

October 21, 2012 1 comment


Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, and Dr. Farris Timimi, the center’s medical director, give the opening keynote at the 2012 Health Care Social Media Summit.

Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, said in the opening keynote at the Health Care Social Media Summit that he has learned to use analogies to help build support. For example, he tells people that social media is the 21st Century’s version of word-of-mouth. Made me think of J.D. Bruewer, social media manager for St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, Ohio, who calls social media the modern version of the coffee shop.

To me, the center that Aase leads is like a big ship breaking through ice jams in the Arctic Ocean of misunderstanding and fear about Health Care Social Media. I’m piloting one of the ships following in its wake.

Analogies aside, here are some random highlights gleaned from Aase’s talk:

* Education is the key to building your organization’s social media business strategy. The Social Media Health Network will be offering an online version of the residency it started last year. A Fellows program is being created with several levels — bronze, sliver and gold.

* Want to know how many hospitals in your state are on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube…? See the new Health Care Social Media List.

* Help the healthcare world better understand what systems block (or don’t) access to social media by participating in the Health Care Social Media Survey. This will help inform a Network subcommittee working on an access white paper.

*Purchase Bringing the Social Media #Revolution to Healthcare on Amazon. Many of the participants in the Summit contributed to the book.

Yammer is a good tool for internal social media. Mayo used the unpaid version before getting the paid upgrade in February 2012. (I know this jumped out from nowhere. Random list, as I said!)

Dr. Timimi, meanwhile, spoke of the opportunity for using social media to help hospitals and health systems meet quality metrics. There is great potential for identifying problems and solutions and diffusing best practices through social media. By the way, Dabo Health has developed a free tool that allows you to see how your hospital is performing on CMS quality metrics. (There is a paid version for more advanced work.)

Glad to be a part of the fleet that’s in the midst of an incredible journey, one that ultimately will contribute to improved care for us all!





How to use video to spread your health care messages

October 19, 2012 Leave a comment

A panel in the huge bronze doors of a historic Mayo Clinic building. Mayo has helped open doors for those in social media health care through efforts such as the Health Care Social Media Summit and Social Media Health Network.

Took a 6 a.m. flight out of Cincinnati earlier this week to get to Rochester, Minn., in time for a pre-conference workshop called How to Use Video to Spread Your Health Care Messages to the Public and the Media with Vince Golla , digital media and syndication director at Kaiser Permanente, which serves 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. The 3-hour session took place the afternoon before the Health Care Social Media Summit and Social Media Health Network meeting.

It was well worth the loss of sleep. Besides, there was lots of coffee to perk me up!

Here are a few highlights from Golla’s workshop:

* Video equipment, and editing and publishing tools have become so affordable and easy-to-use that it’s a no-brainer for PR people to take advantage of them. At the same time, the threshold for production quality has come down. CNN even laid off a number of videographers because its viewers were supplying news videos acceptable to watchers. On top of that, a Pew study shows that people are getting more news via social media. This presents a tremendous opportunity.

* Keep your online videos concise, usually under three minutes. YouTube metrics will give you a good understanding of how long to make a video — and the topics that hold your audience’s attention.

* Documentary style works well. For example, patients telling their stories unscripted and uncompensated to an interviewer at a 15% angle from the camera. Focus on storytelling. Be sure to have them sign a HIPAA waiver. These videos make for good viewing in waiting rooms and embedding in e-newsletters. One video in a Kaiser Permanente newsletter led to 50-plus viewers asking for colon cancer screening kits.

* Devote appropriate time to preparation, especially scouting a location with an ear on sounds and eye on lighting. Interview your subject off-camera, make her comfortable, then turn on the camera and make it more conversational. Use there rule-of-three when framing — include something visually interesting in the shot along with the person speaking.

* Be strategic. Ask how a planned video fits into your message architecture and ties to your organization’s goals and objectives. Maybe a newsletter article or podcast would work better.

* Supplement embargoed press releases about study results with private links to videos of experts quoted in the announcements. These help draw coverage and end up being used by mainstream media.

* Video blogs can be effective platforms for humanizing your hospital. Great examples are Sharing Mayo Clinic and From Dr. Preston Maring’s Kitchen.

* External mics, tripods and lenses, such as those sold on Photojojo, are a necessity. (Check out The Glif, which allows you to put an iPhone on a tripod.) They make a big difference when using an iPhone, Droid or other smaller camera.

* A do-it-yourself video outfit can be assembled for $2,475, while the cost of a single professionally produced video of three minutes. costs $3,500-$5,000. Good argument for investing in equipment.

* Hire an intern to do video editing using Final Cut Pro 10 — and have the intern train you how to edit. Or pay a professional video editor to teach your team the basics.

* If asked to do a “viral video,” say: “You don’t make viral videos. You make videos that go viral. There is a difference.”

These are just a few of the nuggets from the comprehensive pre-conference workshop as I wind down on the Friday evening after a big week at the Summit. Hope you found them helpful.

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