Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Reflecting on last week's social media and healthcare conferences

I have just got back from some intensive days away at the "Breathing new life" and "Social media in healthcare" conferences, in Australia. After giving two presentations and facilitating one workshop, my head is buzzing, and I don't think I'll get around to blogging about all my conversations or thoughts. But here are my five top thoughts that came about as a result of several conversations.

1. The effective use of social media hinges on how you use the technology and not the tools themselves
There was much talk at the conferences about social media tools, and the various pros and cons. The real question is not what tools to use, but how to use them.

2. When social media goes bad...
...it's the fault of the user, not the technology!!

3. It's about quality, not quantity
There was lots of talk about how to attract readers to websites and gain a following. There was also lots of talk about how to use analytics to monitor traffic. But the bottom line for me is the quality of conversation that goes on, not the number of followers you have. So I believe midwives should focus on how they ask questions and generate discussion, rather than attract hits to a Facebook page...... 

4. One person's "want" is another person's need
You may think that a patient or pregnant woman's request for information is not relevant or appropriate. You may also be critical of the timing of that request. But you have no right to dictate how a patient or health consumer should feel about their information requests. If a health consumer feels she needs such and such information...at such and such time...that is for her to say...And just because that patient or pregnant woman is only 18....a so-called X or Y gen....does not make her needs any less real to her.

I am not sure if you'll get what I am trying to say here, but the bottom line is that as health professionals, it is not our job to screen information and rate according to how important we feel it should be to the people we are working with.

5. Blogs are personal communication tools
Blogs are used in many different ways, for different purposes. They tend to be used for more personal, lengthy and in-depth communication. If you want to pass on information quickly with little critique, then you might be better off thinking about using Facebook or some other tool. Blogs are great to use if you want to invite more detailed conversation.

Have you had any thoughts lately about your use of social media as a health professional? What are the key things you are thinking about at the moment?

Image: 'Webtreats 3d Glossy Blue Orbs Social Media Icons'


Carolyn Hastie said...

Hi Sarah, great round up of the information and the workshop you ran. You certainly created a buzz about the use of social media in midwifery. Like you, I'm constantly thinking of ways SoMe can be used to improve communication, information sharing and community building. I love it when people engage on the blog, facebook or twitter in response to something I've posted. I've noticed that most conversation happens about something that is personally meaningful to someone. Perhaps that conversation is sparked more by the way I have written the item. I haven't been clever enough to work that out yet. I'm still working on that side of things. I'm fascinated when a post generates lots of 'visits' but doesn't generate any discussion. I'm not suer if that's good or bad. I'm not sure if the information is useful or not, although I do get random comments by email, phone or in person that someone or other has got a lot out of a particular post or other. You commented that "Blogs are great to use if you want to invite more detailed conversation" but if they don't generate that detailed discussion, does that mean they are not somehow living up to their potential? Obviously a lot more thinking has to go into that one for me!

Another area I'm thinking about is the use of Twitter with the midwifery students. I can across this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVOY2x81_bg and it's got me thinking! What do you think?

Rebekah Brown said...

Hi Sarah, I've been following your work, albeit somewhat sporadically, for about a year, having first come across it during the ePortfolio MOOC last year. I really appreciate you clarity of thought and expression on many topics. I'm actually a vet but many of your professional interests overlap with mine.

I have been thinking about my use of Twitter a lot recently as last week I attended the Australian Veterinary Association conference. A hashtag was circulated a few days before the conference and I was hoping there would be lots of contributions but it was essentially the AVA, me and 2 others. Some of my tweets were better summaries of the discussion that others and got slightly more response ie about 3 people so next time I will think more about how I tweet. I also blogged about the conference and got a few more responses through Twitter. I plan to blog about my social media experience of the conference soon. I'm very glad I did it even though there was limited response.

I think overall the veterinary profession is lagging with the uptake of social media tools, both in communication with clients and for teaching and learning. It is very interesting to hear what is happening in health care.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Carolyn, I think its interesting to think about your comment about those who read and those who make comments on blogs. On the whole I get one or comments to each post, which is really good going compared to other bloggers. But it has taken 5 years to get to this point. I am also finding a number of people who email me, and don't leave a comment here. I am not sure if this is deliberate...ie they're too shy to respond here, if they don't know how to leave a comment.

Clearly there are many lurkers...my stats show that. But I am finding that my posts are being discussed else where but no one said a word to me directly. Or, people say..."I read your blog" and then I tell them off for not leaving a comment.

So long story short...just because people do not leave comments, doesn't mean to say that the blog post doesn't contribute to their learning.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Rebekah

Great to hear from you...it's always good to hear what's going on in similar professions. I think midwifery and healthcare in general is lagging behind. Digital literacy is a major barrier, as is concerns about the professional use of social media. Having said that, I am sure Carolyn will agree that over the last 5 years we've been blogging etc we've seen a considerable increase in the interest and use of social media which I am sure will be mirrored in your own profession.

As a matter of interest, here is the link to the Otago Polytechnic vet nurses' Facebook page...they are really getting into social media for teaching and connecting with the wider community: http://www.facebook.com/VetNursing