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'

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How do you think social media is influencing choices women make about birth?

I am giving a presentation at the Breathing New Life maternity conference in Melbourne at the end of the week about how social media influences the choices women make about maternity care and birth.

Here's my abstract.

The Internet has become ubiquitous and social networking is out-growing any other form of communication. Health professionals cannot afford to ignore the social networking phenomenon because it is the way that maternity consumers are engaging with the world. Women are using social media tools to find and pass on health information, support each other and share experiences. They are becoming online activists, running campaigns for change and developing communities of interest. They are broadcasting their births as political statements. They are talking about health professionals and rating the care midwives and doctors provide. All these activities are influencing the decisions women make about their care, which in turn is changing the relationship between women and health professionals. Health professionals need to keep up to date with the communication changes that are going on so they do not miss vital opportunities to connect with the women they work with. For all the changes that are happening, health professionals still play a vital role in supporting women to make sense of the information and relationships they find online. 

I'd be really interested in hearing what you think about this. 

How have you seen social media influencing the choices women make about birth options and maternity care? 

If you are a pregnant woman or new mum, how have you used Twitter, Facebook etc to find information and make decisions about your care. 

If you are a health professional, what are you experiencing? How do you use social media to communicate with your patients and clients? 

The other thing I am looking for is research that supports (or disproves) the contention that women are engaging with social media to find information and make decisions about care. If you know of any good research or resources about this topic, I'd love to hear about them.     Thank you. 

Image: 'You're the nicest thing I've seen.'

Monday, May 21, 2012

Twitter workshop for health professionals

Some resources to support the workshop about the use of Twitter by health professionals at the Breathing New Life conference in Melbourne, May 2012. 

Aim of the workshop
This workshop will explore:
  • how to set up a Twitter account and ‘follow’ people;
  • how to use it effectively to engage with other health professionals and consumers;
  • how to pass on information;
  • how to use Twitter effectively for professional development 
  • how to use it to facilitate professional development events
Program for workshop

1.  Set the scene
  • Find out what people already know, and how they use Twitter, if at all.
  • Find out what people want to know specifically
2. Presentation
3. Basic "How to" 
4. Group work
Setting up Twitter accounts and communicating with each other using butchers paper and pens.
5. Advanced "How to"
6. Thinking about the professional use of Twitter 
Group discussion about 'dos' and 'donts'.
7. Conclusion
  • Recap of main points
  • Check that all questions have been answered
  • If time, one-to-one consultations
Image: 'iPhone 4'

Monday, May 7, 2012

More thoughts about cultural competence in the online environment

A couple of years ago I wrote a post called: Cultural competence in the online environment. I have been thinking some more about this following my experiences facilitating the Virtual International Day of the Midwife, which is a global online conference for midwives.

I have been given the opportunity to team up with Kate Timms-Dean to explore this further, and hopefully come up with a paper that we're going to submit for publication. Kate has just submitted her Phd in Maori Studies, looking at language revitalisation in Aotearoa New Zealand and Scotland. Kate gave a presentation once in which she talked about the Treaty of Waitangi and how it is a framework for learning and teaching

I have since thought that the Treaty with its three principles of participation, protection and partnership is an appropriate framework to develop online cultural competency guidelines around. This is what we're going to do, using the issues that I wrote about in my blog post to weave in and out of the Treaty principles. 

What do you think are issues that we face when working with different peoples in the global, online environment? What "problems or challenges have you faced? What would you add to any guidelines about cultural competence in the online environment?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Virtual International Day of the Midwife and resource-poor countries

One of the aims of the Virtual International Day of the Midwife has always been to provide professional development opportunities to midwives who cannot access face-to-face CPD, and especially cannot get to the tri-yearly International Congress of Midwives. In particular, we have been keen to share with our midwifery sisters in resource-poor countries.

We are very mindful that using online technologies is a contradiction in terms, being that midwives who are resource-poor are unlikely to be able to access the internet, so they can join this conference. However, we have always posted the recordings, so they can be accessed in an ongoing manner. We know this isn't perfect by a long chalk, but we have tried to do the best we can.

But is "doing the best we can" actually of no use at all? In fact, are we being arrogant and culturally incompetent with the whole concept of the VIDM?

What we're doing so far
This year I have discovered contact details for the member associations of the International Confederation of Midwives, and emailed them information about the VIDM 2012. This has attracted a few speakers and enquires from midwives in Africa. I have had a few emails from people who speak French and Spanish, and I use Google Translate (or another person) to communicate with them. I have tried to invite Chinese-speaking midwives to present, as well as other non-English speaking midwives - we are very keen to have non-English session. But we haven't managed to make this happen this year.

So I have been congratulating myself with how well we're doing. But the reality is...we're only reaching midwives in resource-rich countries. More to the point....we have no midwives on our committee who come from resource-poor countries, so they have no involvement in the planning of the conference. Which means I do not even know if the topics we are providing has any relevance to midwives in resource-poor countries.

Change of model?
What I am wondering is whether we need to take a whole new approach? Rather than providing an event using a top-down model of development and application, we should turn our attention to contacting midwifery associations in resource-poor countries and offering our services to mentor, facilitate and work along side midwives as they develop their own online conferences or CPD events/resources. Or it may be that they say online events, e-learning etc are just not relevant to them.

I have no idea how practical this is as an idea. What do you think? How do you think we can support colleagues in resource-poor countries using online tools and methodologies? Should it even be something we think about? What do you feel are the issues, and how can they be approached?

Image: 'Ethiopia'