This morning I did two things that reaffirmed to me the value of social media.
As a professional communicator in health I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering whether all the time spent on Twitter or using other social media tools is just a narcassistic exercise involving a self-referential and closed community divorced from the real world.
These moments of doubt arise whenever I contemplate the large number of colleagues, physicians and others working in the health care field who dismiss social media as a time-wasting distraction that does nothing to further the interests of providers, patients or the system at large.
As a regular if not fanatical Twitter user (cue hungry baby crying in background, wife pulling at pant legs bemoaning empty pantry), these moments rarely last long.
This morning while Canadians prepared to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday by opening the cottage and consuming large quantities of adult beverages, Twitter quickly yielded at least two pieces of what I would call information and knowledge respectively – both of which I would argue further my work and health care communications in general. Unexceptional in themselves, they show how Twitter reaffirms its value to me professionally over and over.
First, I saw a tweet from Dr. Kevin Campbell (@drkevincampbell), a North Carolina cardiologist and media commentator referencing a new mobile app to help patients prepare for a colonoscopy by sending them timed alerts for each step. Further examination showed the link to be to a news story from Digestive Disease Week, the foremost North American conference dealing with gastrointestinal issues.
Having written about GI issues for several years, I had already been following DDW via @DDW13 and especially tweets from two savvy physician commentators Dr. Alan Coss (@alcoss) from Ireland and Dr. Ryan Madanick from Chapel Hill, NC (@ryanmadanickMD) who are both in attendance at the meeting. However I had failed to follow up on an earlier reference to the app developed in Arizona.
Seeing, Kevin Campbell’s tweet I was able to learn more about the app and also retweet it to my followers.
The second thing I dd was read a blog by an Australian woman Michelle who is dealing with the serious issues accompanying a chronic disease.
I had already exchanged comments with Michelle (@rustyhoe) the previous night during the U.S. based #hcsm chat but this morning I was prompted to read her latest blog post “Fear and Loathing in Las Loungeroom” http://bobisdysautonomia.blogspot.ca/
Michelle wrote: “Living with illness is a crazy ride, filled with complex emotions and situations. We face challenges to our sense of self, our relationships, our entire way of living. There are highs and lows and even the most positive people can find themselves dealing with sadness, fear, guilt and other negative emotions at times. Pretending those times don’t exist or minimising another’s experience does a disservice to ourselves and to our fellow patients.
Shame and fear thrive in silence. And that’s one burden we can change.”
The post, like many others informed individuals able to write about their health challenges in a compelling and informed way, provides me with insights I am just not going to get anywhere else.
Here endeth the lesson.