Healthcare Social Media Is Not Social Media

I think we need to understand the differences among different kinds of social media and how the different kinds fit or do not fit into Healthcare. My concern is that too many advocates of social media who want to see Healthcare adoption of these technologies are thinking in terms of consumer social media (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.). We need to expand our conception of social media beyond that view.

Granted, many of these consumer media have places in Healthcare. But Healthcare includes many angles and different processes which simply can’t be helped by consumer social media. Clinical collaboration is a great example.

So what’s the difference between consumer media and enterprise media? I’d argue that they have to do with a number of things: Time, Accuracy, Relevance, Content, Context and Process.

Fundamentally, the difference between consumer media and enterprise media rests on the difference between Instant Media and true Real-time Media. Let me elaborate.

Twitter, Facebook and other consumer media are instant streams that flow in one-direction along time. A tweet or status update or post arrive when they arrive – time is their only filter. They are Instant media.

On the other hand, Realtime media are far more robust. Here’s my definition:

Realtime media are technologies which deliver the right and relevant information at the right time; in the right context; and within the right process.

This is a critical difference that must be understood. So far, we don’t have the kind of innovation and technological excellence we need to develop true realtime media. It’s a huge challenge to create these platforms, but the market is certainly there and so is the talent.

Social media in general are creating disturbances and opportunities and dangers. But we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking social media is just the kinds of consumer social media that have made it big in terms of popularity.

We have yet to see social media come into its full being. Things have only just begun.

So, my hope is that we can focus our hopes and views concerning social media in healthcare on the truly heavy-duty tools that can make real differences.

I love Twitter but even I know we need far far more potent software solutions to the pressing problems of healthcare communications in all its forms. And not only do we need software solutions – we’ll need to address the necessary cultural and behavioral needs required to put the technology to work for us, not the other way around.

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – Newsletter


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