These are some things that matter in the intersection of Healthcare and social media:
Clear Signals It’s easy for nuances to get lost in different kinds of media. A missing emoticon can rupture an intended meaning, and even ruin someone’s day.
Silence Communication isn’t always a good thing. During conflict, for instance, communication at the wrong time can intensify violence. An angry patient might go ballistic via social media because her father died of sepsis at a mediocre hospital. “Engaging” with her at that moment might not be helpful. We don’t always have to talk. There is strategy in silence.
Understanding Human Needs This is both the easiest and hardest part. When someone is grimacing in agony, it’s a clear signal to us to do something. When someone is clinically depressed, he may put on a mask – and there’s no quality signal to tell us what’s important. He may say angry things online, but is just in pain. Do you understand both the human psychology and its conveyance or blurring on social media? Furthermore, the human condition is complex and what we know about it offline may not be enough to understand how the Web impacts it. Knowing how to communicate via social media is not the same as understanding the human condition in light of evolving technologies.
Transcending the Medium (This is tricky for me to articulate, so bear with me). Because Marshall McLuhan was right that the medium is the message, we must prove him wrong because the message should be the medium. This sounds like a paradox, but think about it. We don’t want the medium to be the message, even though it is! So what are we to do? Well, this is where knowing the three points above come into play: our messages must be created so full with meaning (within moments of silence) and communicated with such clarity and understanding of human needs, that they burst through the medium. You want an example, don’t you? Well, go read through this transcript and see how the message of Alzheimer’s burst through the medium of Twitter. (Tip: search for “the red light” in the bar at the bottom of the document and read the tweets before and after that part.)
That’s it for now, friends – more things that matter in healthcare social media.
@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – Newsletter