I hope that it is fair to say that the theme of the Health Stat 2.0 held in Bethesda on May 15th was increasing patient engagement to enhance the quality of medical care.
Some things really changed for me Thursday evening. I came away with a greater understanding of virtual communities but also of the power of a tool like Facebook to create a dialogue between medical facilities and their patients. Michelle Murray presented a very compelling story about the development of the University of Maryland’s Medical Center’s Facebook page. I have been extremely concerned about Facebook’s attitude toward privacy but this talk gave me food for thought. It was very clear from her stories that patient engagement had indeed increased and was having an positive impact on the Center’s public outreach and quality of care. Facebook has demonstrated potential to create beneficial social change. Let’s stay tuned.
Jim Rose of Vermdx Inc. did an excellent job of laying the thematic groundwork with his talk about the importance of patient engagement and quality medical care. Meredith Gould, Ph.D, (@MeredithGould) talked about using twitter to build virtual communities like the Virtual Abbey. She spoke about how a virtual community is a real community. They are so real in fact that they require the same commitment to structure and rules of engagement that we have offline.
Brandi Hight of HHS spoke about how consumer- oriented “content-specific” sites like Vaccines.gov provide the public with an opportunity to access the best federal resources on topics like vaccine and immunization. She also mentioned other consumer oriented federal sites like flu.gov and aidsinfo.gov.
Erica Holt, a digital media strategist, rounded out the panel by laying out the challenges of measuring the impact of social media programs. I thought it was a strong way to wrap up the talks.
When I talk to people in the mobile design community one of the things that they say consistently is that we are all still learning. In 2005 smart phones and the app market didn’t exist. Isn’t the same true for social media tools? Everybody is working toward figuring these new tools out.
Our understanding of social media’s potential for increasing the quality of patient engagement and medical care is still evolving. Standards will come as we figure it out. So let’s keep learning and working toward positive change!
Have a good week!