Social Technologies in Health Care

In late March, I had the opportunity to participate in a two-part panel sponsored by ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership, “Social Technologies in Healthcare: Applications, Implications and What’s Next?”  I did a recap post of the event here.

To set up the conversation, each of the panelists were asked to respond to a series of questions. I thought it would be helpful to post here the answers I provided there. I don’t know that they’re profound, and I hope they’re not totally unique, because then I’d be seriously off base. And as always, what you see written here is my perspective, and doesn’t represent my employer.

Question One: What is your long-term vision for the impact of social technologies on health care?

Social technologies already are important in health care, in that they give voice to individuals and enable them to connect with others who have similar experiences, conditions and concerns. Word of mouth has always been important in health and health care, dating back even to biblical times when reports of miraculous healings would cause thousands to gather on a hillside in Galilee. So it’’s no surprise that patients are using powerful social technologies to spread the word about their health care experiences.

Patients also are forming virtual communities and support groups that overcome geographic barriers. It has been impractical to form many of these communities of interest locally because the conditions are too unusual to provide for a critical mass of individuals with common interests. But social technologies eliminate these barriers to group formation and enable patients to learn from each other.

In the longer term, we must find ways to incorporate social technologies into management of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes. The shortage of primary care physicians will worsen, calling for more emphasis on mid-level providers. But nurses and physician assistants (PAs) will be in short supply as well.

It will be physically impossible to provide quality management for a growing population of Baby Boomers with chronic conditions, even with increased reliance on mid-level providers. But virtually it may be possible. And since many of those conditions are substantially influenced by behavior, peer networks mediated by social technologies have potential, with appropriate medical provider involvement, to provide social support to reduce the burden of disease.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 13. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

7 thoughts on “Social Technologies in Health Care”

  1. Lee, this is excellent! Although I’m working with http://www.beyondpolls.com my background is healthcare. I worked as a cardiovascular nurse specialist for 25 years before I got into social media. But I’m still very interested in motivating people to make healthier lifestyle choices to prevent heart diseaese.

    My long term goal is to expand into using social media in healthcare. I think there are concerns from healthcare professionals because of liability, confidentiality and loss of control. But I believe these obstacles can be overcome.

    I’ve followed you on twitter, facebook and your blog but have a renewed interest to read through your latest posts. I look forward to reading the rest of these questions. Baby boomers like me are getting older and I can tell you that they are concerned about many health issues.

  2. Thanks for posting all of these Lee. I’m working with a physician to copresent this week “Physicians and the Power of Online Social Networks: Tweets, Blogs, and More” at TexMed 2009, our annual meeting. I’ve shared your posts with him and we’ll both be borrowing.

  3. A (r) evolution in health care: Make 2.0?
    Acute Care (Lucien Engelen) Thursday, April 9, 2009, 07:48
    Clicked: 189 times | 1 comment
    A number of tables I can say about the evolution of what I call Make 2.0. We have already addressed the first challenge: Make 2.0, Health 2.0, E-health, Health Next you name it.
    The definition issue is already clear what must be put down. And it is a discussion about art, or is it more? Obviously I have an opinion, but because of the investigation as they do to Make 2.0 we are looking for your opinion and we encourage you to form an opinion on this. One thing is clear for us, that revolution is coming, but as one of the participants in the consultations this week in RVZ said. “Perhaps it is more an evolution.” Or is it a true Hall-be revolution.
    The discussion about whether all or some speed to run with these developments will however remain. The same also applies to the debate on money, the Business Models that might be adapted (to) go worden.Of the extent to which we may or may not be “allow” the patient is given more direction.

    That is for me also as the core. I keep all options open for me and it is therefore now a: (R) evolution, which for me is not the OS or the question there, but when it will come. Or …. is it already? See the blog post and comments by Dave deBronkart e-patients.net (subtitle: Because Care Professionals not only “.

    Obviously, we on this at this table but I also wanted to carry with you like this debate. Virtual, online, by telephone, but we also have excellent coffee.
    For this discussion a little to awaken I have the following a number of things to put together as “opwarmer”

  4. A (r) evolution in health care: Health 2.0?
    A number of tables I can say about the evolution of what I call Health 2.0. We have already addressed the first challenge: Health 2.0, E-health, NextHealth you name it.
    The definition issue is already clear what must be put down. And it is a discussion about art, or is it more? Obviously I have an opinion, but because of the research we are doing right now on Health 2.0 we are looking for other opinions and we encourage you to form an opinion on this, also here on this blog of Lee.

    One thing is clear for us, that revolution is coming, but as one of the participants in the consultations earlier in the Council for Public Health and Health Care said. “Perhaps it is more an evolution.” Or is it a true Hall-be revolution.
    The discussion about whether all or some speed to run with these developments will however remain. The same also applies to the debate on money, the Business Models that might be adapted (to) go worden. Of the extent to which we may or may not be “allow” the patient is given more direction. Funny discussion, no ? Social Media and the internet will empower patients more and more.

    That is for me also as the core. I keep all options open for me and it is therefore now a: (R) evolution, which for me is not the IF nor the OR the question there, but WHEN it will come. Or …. isn’t it already?

    Also have a look at this : http://digg.com/u12FTS

    Lucien Engelen

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