Holiday Greetings

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve used it as my Christmas Letter 2.0, instead of bothering with the cost and hassle of snail mail. Besides, with my celiac disease diagnosis, I can’t lick envelopes anymore, lest I get some gluten in the paste.

It’s great to take time in this season to reflect on God’s blessings from the previous year (and I’ve also enjoyed reviewing again the amazing changes in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.)

Lots of things are different this year. When I wrote last year’s letter we were in the midst of the snowiest December on record in southern Minnesota. Here was the view out our porch window on Christmas morning a week ago today:

Part of the reason for my delay in writing this year’s edition is that for the last week we’ve had a full house, as our son Jacob and his wife Alexi and our daughter Rachel and her family have been here for Christmas. It would have been odd to spend the time writing instead of taking in the fun. But now that we’re down to our usual complement of the four youngest kids who are still at home (and since we got some updated pictures during Christmas, which you can enlarge by clicking), it’s time to recap 2011.

Continue reading “Holiday Greetings”

My ABC National Radio Appearance

Instead of the American Broadcasting Company, it’s the Australian Broadcasting Company, and from an interview I did while in Sydney last week for the HARC Forum. The interview was for The Health Report, with Dr. Norman Swan.

We had a lively conversation, and I enjoyed getting to speak with Dr. Swan about our Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

The program aired Monday morning in Australia.

Listen to the program or download it. And follow Dr. Swan on Twitter.

Let me know what you think.


Keynoting the HARC Forum in Sydney

I’m delighted to be in Sydney, New South Wales this week and presenting this evening at the HARC 7th Forum. HARC is the Hospital Alliance for Research Collaboration, and is an initiative of the Sax Institute in partnership with the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission and the Agency for Clinical Innovation.

As is my propensity, I will be going through a lot of slides during my 50-minute presentation, so to make it easier for participants to follow without having to take notes, I’ve posted the deck to Slideshare and have embedded below.

You can follow all the fun on Twitter with the #HARCsm tag. I’m glad also to finally get to meet Hugh Stephens, who is a member of our External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

Here are a few links participants might want to check:

I look forward to continuing the conversation in the comments below, and in the social time after the event. We also have a tweetup with the #HCSMANZ gang Thursday night.



SMUG Down Under

As I write this, I’m at the Denver airport, having just done a presentation for the annual meeting of the American Association of Medical Colleges. It was fun to get to hear Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics and Macrowikinomics, in a plenary session just before my presentation. He’s one of the authors who have influenced me a lot, so it was a treat to hear him. Much food for continued thought.

Tonight I’m flying to Los Angeles to catch a flight to Sydney, where I will be the guest of the Sax Institute and its collaborators in New South Wales.

It’s my first trip to Australia, and as far as I know it’s the first time any of my ancestors have been there. A whole new continent.

It’s going to be a really full week. I will be posting more here, and documenting the trip via Twitter, too.

This will be the longest night I’ve ever experienced. It’s dark in Denver as we get ready to board, and for the next 20 hours or so I’m going to be flying into the night, until arriving in Sydney on Monday morning.

I feel kind of ripped off that I don’t get to experience the end of Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. and the “Fall back” part of the equation, but then again I won’t really experience Sunday, either.

For those who attended my session at the AAMC meeting, I welcome any comments or questions you may have…just put them in the comments below. And if you want to see the full version of the video I used to close my presentation, it’s here.





G’Day Alfred Health

I’m sure they’ve never been greeted like that before. Kind of like my work colleague, Sara Bakken, who married a guy named Eric Lee. Now nobody doesn’t like her. Or my friend Kevin, who after the first Matrix movie grew tired of being called “Missss-ter Anderson.”

Anyway, as I tweeted earlier tonight, I had the distinct pleasure of a Skype videoconference at 6 p.m. CDT with the communications team from Alfred Health in Melbourne, Australia. It was about 8 a.m. Wednesday for them:

It was a great discussion and we covered a lot of ground in 30 minutes. Being a public hospital, their challenges are somewhat different from those we have in the U.S., but the point I made with them is not to necessarily emulate exactly what we have done with social media tools, but to see how they can be used to meet the goals for their health system.

So, for example, they may want to see how social tools can help with behavior modification, and perhaps even to provide low-cost or no-cost medical guidance to patients so that they don’t need to come to the hospital. Among the limitations we generally have in the U.S. is that there is little economic incentive for health care providers to invest in prevention, because for the most part seeing patients is the way they get paid. So instead of using social tools to make patients aware of unique services, which could lead to increased demand, they may want to apply them to prevention or support groups or guidance in when self care is appropriate.

In follow-up I mentioned our Mayo Clinic Symptom Checker iPhone app, and how that (or something like it) could play a role in helping patients be wiser about when they need to seek care.

What do you think? How can social media tools and other digital platforms be used to improve health and health care in places like Australia or Western Europe, where the health care systems are much different from the U.S.?