Exciting Opportunities in Healthcare Social Media Open Now!

Here are a few of the exciting opportunities that are currently wide open for ambitious and talented applicants:

  • Clinical Research
  • Provider Collaboration
  • Curation of Evidence-Based Content
  • Patient Customer Service

CLINICAL RESEARCH

As more and more people tell their stories, converse with others and emit data about their lives, the pool of information pertinent to clinical research will continue to swell.

Developing ways of finding and organizing the data will provide enormous value to researchers, from seeking participants to monitoring the wild. I’m pretty sure that there a few enterprises willing to pay for these kinds of services.

PROVIDER COLLABORATION

In practice, physicians and nurses can’t spend their day on Twitter and Facebook and blogs and forums.

But: they do need productive and reliable ways of collaborating on cases; alerting each other to critical needs; monitoring patient data and progress; coordinating care; and sharing experiences and knowledge and wisdom.

Social media certainly provide possible to solutions to these problems. But Twitter and Facebook aren’t the right places to look.

iMedExchange offers a view of what’s possible.

New kinds of social media will need to be developed. For more on what this means, read Instant Is Not Real-Time.

CURATION OF EVIDENCE-BASED CONTENT

The amount of data and information on the Web is virtually infinite. Worse, the amount of bad data and information probably exceeds the good.

How to provide the best information at the right time? In a world where information speeds like lightening and attention spans are straining, it will become critical that platforms are developed which deliver the right information at the right time in the right context.

The future of content opportunities lies in curation. I’d argue that Curators will be among the new kings and queens of the Web. Opportunities for healthcare are out there for someone to fill.

PATIENT CUSTOMER SERVICE

Patients want connection and service and provider availability.

The continuum of care is vast. Competent healthcare doesn’t start in the ER. It starts at home.

Building platforms that enable patients and providers to connect in safe and mutually-agreeable ways is a huge gaping opportunity for developers.

Facebook and Twitter weren’t designed with healthcare in mind.

Currently, there’s all sorts of talk on how to use these media in provider-patient relations. But the possibilities are constrained by the designs of these platforms. Facebook for example is such an unstable and unpredictable platform, that providers are understandably nervous in incorporating them into their practice.

Not to mention, the issue of boundaries has yet to be worked out. New kinds of social platforms that take account of the healthcare ramifications of social relations from the start will go a long way toward getting buy-in from providers. Hello Health is a great start but there’s still opportunity for development.

THE UNAMIBTIOUS AND RESISTANT NEED NOT APPLY

Years ago when I started thinking about the possibilities of repurposing emerging media into health care, I met a lot of resistance from colleagues and hospital administrators. Back then, talking about healthcare and social media was a lonely business. #HCSM and #HCSMEU and #RNCHAT weren’t around.

I understood: very few people in healthcare even heard about Twitter or RSS or any of this other nonsense (I use that word affectionately). But I also could palpably feel a sense of resistance – in fact, in some case I was met with something along the lines of outright anger. Crazy, huh?

But now, it’s become obvious that we are becoming increasingly connected and these media are staples of contemporary communications.

There’s so much that we can do with Technology. But we also need Art. Art gives us fresh perspective and reminds us of what we’re capable of.

Just like Health, Creativity is Social.

It can also be financially rewarding. 🙂

@PhilBaumann

@HealthIsSocial

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What Is Social Media? Not What You Think!

A few weeks ago I attended the Digital Pharma West Conference in San Francisco where I was on a panel discussing the role of emerging technologies in the life sciences. Although I’m a big believer in repurposing technologies – especially social software – for business uses, I always express caution about simply jumping into them and punting without establishing an understanding of their basic properties.

Social Media is not what most evangelists think or say it is. Technology reveals things: things about how the world works, things about how we work; things about how we provide healthcare; even things about how technologies work and inter-relate and evolve.

And from a business perspective, social media is revealing things about how enterprises work – or, more commonly, how they don’t work.

Allow me to explain.

IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK

Most definitions of so-called social media focus on the marketing, communications, public relations enframming of them.

But I would argue that there a non-social aspects and ramifications of these media which can have social value. So, here’s an attempt to place social media in a broader perspective and why it’s important to do so.

I realize what I have to say here may seem esoteric and overly philosophical. However, too often I see organizations get ahead of themselves without fully understanding how things fit together in order to be oriented. A business – whatever business – without orientation is headed to bankruptcy.

SOCIAL MEDIA IS…

Social Media is the meeting place between people and technology. It enables new kinds of connectivity and relationships between people, from intimate to ambient. But it’s more than just social: social media connects machines, objects and data in ways we’ve never seen before.

Social Media in fact is has three essential attributes:

  1. Social
  2. Technological
  3. Ideological

Social On one hand Social Media is neither social nor media. People are social; but what is referred to as social media are in fact software. Traditional media were hardware – print, radio, TV were non-programmable, stable and predictable media. Software are pliant, unstable and unpredictable. Unlike traditional media, small tweaks in software can produce major repercussions in their function and social dynamics. And it’s this pliancy of the software which enables novel ways for people to connect and share and network. In other words: there certainly are social aspects to these technologies.

Technological Social Media – which depend on software – certainly do enable social connections. But it is also a technological connector. Underlying social media are software which offer pliant repurposing and evolving and revealing of new connections and networks – and the new worlds born out of them.

Ideological Furthermore, social media is Ideological. It’s important to understand the historical relationship between technology and ideology. New technological conditions generate shifts in power through which new ideologies emerge. The current debates about Privacy and Intellectual Property are just two examples of the kinds of new ideologies that are emerging. When Marketers ask How can we integrate social media into our strategy?, they are seeking an Ideology.

WHAT’S THE BIG PICTURE, WHAT’S THE HISTORY?

Movable type brought forth new ways of knowledge acquisition and distribution, undermining established religions, governments, laws and political structures: all of which bore the strain of challenging ideologies made possible by the technologies of reading and writing.

Even the human brain was rewired: the acoustic parts of the brain slowly gave way to the visual; the mythological way of thinking was replaced by a literal one. The linear, rigid, procedural mentality brought forth a new kind of civilization ultimately leading away from Feudalism to Capitalism and mass production, which in turn gave rise to Marxist and other ideologies.

While the ramifying consequences of moveable type transpired over centuries – half of a Millenia – the pace of today’s emerging media is creating shifts in years, months and weeks.

The technological conditions of the 20th Century limited messaging to unilateral mass communications and represented the culmination of the technological advances originating from the Literal Mind which moveable type gave rise to. The technological conditions of the 21st Century create multilateral and customizable communications at both the mass and micro level.

Therefore: Social media is social, technological and ideological. This combination forms the powder keg of early 21st Century cultural, technological, ideological, economic, commercial and political disruption.

TWITTER’S SIMPLICITY IS IT’S COMPLEXITY

Twitter, for instance, enables connections among two or more people for conversation, sharing and connecting. That’s the social feature of Twitter.

But Twitter as platform (and by Twitter I’m referring to the generic premise, not necessarily Twitter, Inc.‘s service) includes a broader and more fundamental utility opening a new design space in which further technological evolution can take place.

From insulin pumps following the tweets of continuous glucose readings, to weapons following the tweets of command units, Twitter will change the way we, computers and machines get things done. Furthermore it will change why we do what we do because it affords new systems to grow on top of the platform, offering new views of what’s possible with the technologies.

Twitter’s simplicity is its complexity. So in Life Sciences, not only is marketing being affected but also design and research and clinical collaboration and production of solutions to problems which can now be discovered and tracked far more powerfully than ever before.

A purpose of marketing is to connect two points: Connect a point of suffering with a point of care. Today’s technologies offer newly evolving challenges and opportunities of accomplishing that task.

IT’S THE CAPITAL, STUPID

And this brings us to the discussion about adoption and integration of social media. In my view, too much of the focus in current discussions is lopsided from a strategic perspective.

I believe that the Marketer’s perspective is too myopic to handle the full ramifications of these technologies – and yet, it’s the one that is the loudest (and most confused I might add). 🙂

Rather, it’s the Investor’s perspective that is critical and far more capable of successfully understanding and implementing the changes demanded of our times.

Let me explain.

Every dollar you see on the financial statements of an enterprise is ultimately the result of social transactions: revenues are the result of social transactions with customers; expenses are the result of social transactions with vendors; capitalization is the result of social relations with investors.

Revenues are only part of an entire enterprise’s well-being. Expenses are part of the investing and operating necessities of any going-concern. Labor, for instance, represents the potential of employees to produce, create and operate.

Internal uses of the right kinds of social media, therefore, can be just a financially valuable as externally-facing uses. And therein lies the importance of bringing social media deep into an organization.

In fact, I would argue that those businesses which adopt social media internally first may be in a better position as they build their online presences and voice. Actually – it’s those businesses which question their assumptions, re-examine how they get things done and re-design processes which will extract the most value from emerging media.

All too often, the Marketer’s perspective is the largest focus when it comes to social media integration. But it’s the Investor’s perspective that provides the largest view of what’s possible.

A STRATEGY WITHOUT A VISION IS A MESS

Social Media is simple from the outside but complex on the inside. In a word, Social Media is a mess.

…Unless, of course, you understand that before Strategy comes Vision. Some people see that and some don’t.

The right question isn’t How do we integrate these technologies into our strategy?

A smarter question is: Do these technologies call into question our strategy?

Ah – now there’s a question.

Ask and you shall receive.

@PhilBaumann

@HealthIsSocial

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When Twitter Becomes Another Job

So you’ve finally decided that social media is worth your attention. You’ve gone through the process of questioning the business propositions and how emerging media factor into your going concern. You’ve got a blog or two, some Facebook pages and maybe several Twitter accounts to handle your various channels. In other words, you’ve been through the early stages of adoption.

It’s now 2010. Twitter’s becoming a staple of communications – like the telegraph was a long long time ago and the telephone a less longer time ago. It won’t be long before tweeting and other contemporary forms of communication become ubiquitous (in some form or another). That is: there’s a chance they’ll become someone’s job.

BOREDOM IS HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH

So here’s the weird tension of today’s communication media and platforms:

  • Communication needs to be personal, energetic and sincere
  • Business is business (translation: work has to be accomplished)

Traditional business communications relied on stable, predictable and staid styles. There was an understanding that corporate communications were boring (not to mention talk-to-the-handish).

Today (at least in the B2C world), people literally unfollow stable, predictable and staid communications (unless there’s a specific need for that). Today, the expectation is that at the other end of the keyboard or smartphone is a human being. Moreover, it’s a definite boon if that that human is cool.

Fun is cool. Boredom isn’t.

A job is neither cool nor fun.

Work, on the other hand, can be fun and cool. (Yes, work – unlike a job – can and must be fun.)

WHY DO SO MANY PEOPLE UNFOLLOW THEIR JOBS?

Most businesses have been set up as giant machines and the people run to hire them trained to operate mechanically. That way of getting things done may have worked under last century’s technological conditions, but today’s technologies demand supple musculature that can’t be met by mere machines and their gear-work.

In other words, businesses who want to be successful on the web can’t afford to fund boring jobs. Boredom is not only unhealthy, it’s also counterproductive.

If you’re committed to the long-term opportunities and challenges posed by the ramifications of emerging media, you will have to invest the time and efforts in designing business environments that are far more human than they are technological.

Of all the challenges posed by social media, perhaps it’s the costs of re-designing the workflows of business that aught to receive the greatest attention. You can blog and tweet and update your status on Facebook all you want, but if the people doing the work are bored or burnt out or angry, then you could lose whatever social capital you created via those platforms.

TRASH THE RESUME, HIRE A BRAIN

Who you hired always mattered. But now, who you hire matters more than ever.

If there’s one thing that today’s workers – from the C-suite to the frontline – need to be it’s Polymath. Polymaths didn’t do too well last century. This Century? Well, this century belongs to the Polymath – yes, we finally get our revenge. 😉

But of all traits of successful leaders on the web, it’s humor that is most important.

I’ll be blunt about this: Stupid people aren’t funny.

I know that’s cold, but it’s true: you don’t want people who are only good at following directions. You need people who can lead the way even if there’s no map. Because on the web, there really isn’t a map – the whole terrain is evolving.

So here are a few tips for socially healthy business design:

  • Use emerging media to find potential hires
  • Identify the humor bones in your organization – could they take part in the work of social media?
  • Hire funny people. I’m not kidding: they’re usually bright, creative and easy-going.
  • Encourage – not discourage – internal use of social media. Set the tone properly: these media are compliments to business intelligence gathering and networking.
  • Tear down the Interruption office (more on this in a future post). Basically, it means this: take away tools that interrupt people from thinking and doing what they do. (This is ironic in light of social media, but constantly demanding employees’ attention with email and phone calls and meetings is utterly counter to effective production.)
  • Seriously consider how to roll out a work-from-home arrangement. BUT: make sure you incorporate ways for employees to socialize in real life.

If Twitter becomes someone’s job, you might as well turn off the account. The human use of human beings is always a tricky thing to work out. But in today’s technologically-infused and saturating world, human is worth a whole lot more for successful businesses than it’s ever been. And that’s a good thing for us all.

Humor. It’s an important word. Humor is the essence of human. And human is the essence of today’s business.

@PhilBaumann

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Non-Social Media for Healthcare

The needs of healthcare run deep. We need people, talent, resources, processes, technologies, leadership, fellowship… Healthcare depends on science, which anymore depends on technology. But healthcare also depends on Art and so healthcare instances of technology will need to be furnished through the lens of artistic vision. Social is Art.

Social Media certainly has garnered more than its share of attention (although there are still pockets of unawareness). There’s lots to work out and social media will continue to evolve, revealing new opportunities for re-purposing.

One interesting thing about social media are their non-social uses. And beyond social media, novel technologies – from augmented reality to tag readers to RFID – open up new territories of healthcare provision and delivery to explore.

The wonderful thing about these non-social technologies is that eventually they will not only be linked to social uses, they’ll actually open up new doors for human connection.

That is, paradoxically: non-social technologies can reveal social design spaces.

In future posts, I’ll illustrate with specific examples. For now, I urge you to stretch your imagination.

As healthcare technologies and social media evolve in their adoption and re-purposing, providers will have to strive to bring forth an artistic approach to their deployment.

Why? Because a purely technological worldview shadows our deeply human natures and values and purposes. Art and Technology are so similar as to almost be the same thing when examined too closely.

The difference, whatever it is, is the difference between being alive and feeling alive. And it’s feeling alive which is the noblest goal of health care.

In healthcare, non-social uses of social and other media will increasingly become cornerstones of its technological foundation.

The trick will be to maintain a steady, artful hand when designing and using them. In a way, what we call social media may turn out to be more than just the kinds that connect you and me: they may be what connects everything in the web of things.

For health to be social, we must create, not just make.

Health is social. It’s also an art.

@PhilBaumann

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Ativan for Healthcare Social Media

Ativan for Healthcare Social MediaPatients want: connection…support…wisdom…help.

Healthcare providers (should) want: patients to get and stay well.

Given this simple and mutually beneficial set of conditions, it would be reasonable to conclude that the Healthcare and Life Sciences industries would fawn over emerging social and digital media.

Overall, however, the industries appear to be very anxious about treading into social media. Of course there are solid and valid concerns: HIPAA, FDA regulations, boundaries, patient dignity, proprietary information, etc. But concerns are different from fears. And therein lies a key opportunity for change agents within the industries to better reposition themselves with respect to social and digital media.

RELAX: YOU CAN’T BLOW UP THE WORLD WITH A TWEET

…Well, technically one could hook a bomb up to a Twitter account, message it and BOOM.

Other than that, it’s unlikely that providers are playing with anything more risky with social media than they are with surgery or liver-damaging pharmaceuticals or implantable devices or admissions to hospitals with high infection rates.

If ever there was an industry that had to manage high risk, it’s the healthcare and life sciences industries.

And perhaps it’s because of the need for conservative risk-management that what should be a culture of concern has become a culture of fear.

Fear can drive you in the wrong direction. Fear can reinforce your prejudices. Fear can replace strategy with blunder.

Every single day, smart business leaders orbit and fall into the gravity of fear.

Fear is one of the most common cultural traits of many enterprises – not just healthcare.

An organization that can overcome its fears is an organization that has a healthier view of the world. It can discriminate between true concerns and false alarms. It isn’t afraid of change because it’s accepted the fact that the world is utterly composed of change.

WHAT DOSAGE OF ATIVAN DO YOU NEED?

Addressing Fear – personal and professional – is one of life’s biggest challenges. It would be nice if there were a magic formula for treating fear. Ativan can treat Anxiety, but it doesn’t treat fear. If it did, every day would be casual day in the most conservative of organizations.

So what can be done to address fear? Well the most important step is assessment.

In every meeting, everybody should go around the room and ask “What are we afraid of?” If the answer is No to a demand for change, find out how much of a part fear plays.

Find out the underlying cause of the fear – is the object of the concern valid or based on a misperception? Is ignorance or awareness at work?

Do the decision makers understand the full picture of what’s at stake? That is: Do they know that nothing in life is without risk?

If you want to know what the Ativan for cultural fear is, here it is in one word: Understanding.

The proper response to a world that looks terrifying isn’t fear and denial and blocking it out. The proper response is to face it, figure it out and go forth.

In a world which is becoming increasingly connected, there is little room for fearful savants.

Today’s healthcare leaders need to be courageous polymaths.

by @PhilBaumann

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