Back to the freezer

On the flight back from Cebu City, the Phillipines to Ottawa through a 60c degree variation in temperature I have  been trying to figure out what to make of it all.

Beyond the overwhelming experiences of being thrown into the loud and fast-paced heart of a Phillipine city with all its beeping jeepneys and indescribable cuisine, I would like to encapsulate just what it meant to be part of the first ever Phillipine conference on social media in health care(#hcsmph).

Truly, the success of the conference with 450 delegates and a full day of well-attended and debated sessions (and a twitter stream with more than 6 million impressions) speaks directly to the influence of social media itself.

This conference came about solely because four physicians in different parts of the country met on Twitter and started a regular tweetchat in the Phillipines (#healthxph) which has served to jumpstart the entire movement.

Drs. Gia Sison (@giasison), Iris Thiele Isip Tan (@endocrine_witch), Remo Aquilar (@bonedoc) and Narciso Tapia (@cebumd) had never all met in person before the Cebu conference. But together with Dr. Helen Madamba (@helenvmadamba) , a respected ob/gyn who they refer to as the baby of the group, they coalesced around Twitter and logistically were able to pull together the planning, sponsorship and other details necessary to hold the meeting.

They also put their stamp on how social media will be used properly by cloudsourcing a manifesto on the appropriate use of social media tools by health care professionals, of which I was truly honoured to be one of the initial signatories.

Discussions at the conference made it clear that Phillipine health care professionals from physicians and nurses to informatics experts and patient advocates are already exploring the use of social media want to use it more to deliver care in that country.

But discussions also underscored how the individual realities of available infrastructure and cultural differences will shape just how social media gets used by a health care community even if the face of social media is a global one.

At #hcsmph I was privileged to meet Dr. Teddy Herbosa (@teddybird), an emergency physician and former Undersecretary of Health. In discussions we realized that the ‘think globally, act locally” mantra applies well to social media in health care.

Hearing Gia discuss first hand her experiences with using social media to deal with breast cancer was a professional highlight of this trip. But what will live in my memory is riding through the dark streets of Cebu in the back of an SUV listening to Dr. Tapia mangle popular songs with Twitter references accompanied by laughter from all.

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