Doctors 2.0 – Second Post

Sitting next to +Ronan Kavanagh in a nice French restaurant after the first day of the Doctors 2.0 conference, he commented, in his lovely Irish brogue, “You know, at our age we are not supposed to have the opportunity to make so many new friends. But look at this table, all brought together by a common bond.” 

What great fortune, to be sharing dinner with six interesting people who I’d had the fortune to meet on Twitter during the last year. The cool thing was–they were every bit as awesome IRL (in real life) as they are on line. All of us share a passion for making the patient experience better using digital tools–gamification, the quantified self, video patient information, social media for physicians and patients, etc. And while I didn’t meet John Brownlee on Twitter, he was the other common bond amongst us; the CEO and founder of ClearMD who organized the meal.

The Doctors 2.0 conference brought doctors, patients and entrepreneurs together in an incredible setting, la Cité Universitaire:

We heard from healthcare startups, e-patients, pharma, doctors and medical futurists among others while networking and eating French snacks. Maybe it was the wine, but when the two day conference was over, I was left with a hopeful feeling that patients, doctors and healthcare entities who put patients first can brainstorm and make a difference for the better in patient lives.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Can Social Media reduce Physician Burnout?

In late fall of 2011 I was tired of medicine. While seeing patients was still enjoyable, I felt under-appreciated in my employment and frustrated by the endless BS that I dealt with–new laws undermining the trust my patients place in me, increasing requirements from insurance companies for ordering tests or medications, more forms to sign, less time with patients, a cumbersome EHR to learn, more non-CME education requirements from the system I belonged to…the list grew endless. Most of it boiled down to less control over my professional life and less time to spend with the people I enjoyed-family, friends and patients.

The following February I began writing


a blog on my professional frustrations as well as the occasional reward. Shortly after that I discovered Twitter–first as a “lurker” listening in the background, then as an active participant. I met so many interesting people–physicians, e-patients, Social Media gurus, pharmacists, nurses, other healthcare providers, patient family members, the list is endless. Through Twitter my office knew early on about the multi-state fungal meningitis caused by tainted steroid vials, the Newtown shootings (unfortunately) and the Open Notes study. If Mayo and Cleveland Clinics were using Social Media to reach and teach their patients, it was likely that Social Media was not just a passing fad. Meanwhile my fascination with the phenomenon grew


I began a master’s level course on Social Media that is mind-blowing (and free) developed by +Bertalan Meskó, an MD-Phd from Hungary who is a Medical Futurist.

I read “The Creative Destruction of Medicine” by +Eric Topol who recently spoke  on the Colbert Report about the future of medicine. I submitted blogs and was  published by Dr. Kevin Pho, “social media’s leading physician voice”.

In October of 2012 I attended Mayo Clinic’s Social Media in Medicine Summit and met a few hundred people interested in how Social Media is changing medicine.

Patients now get a business card with the access site to a patient portal, my twitter handle and my blog site. They can contact me 24/7, understanding that I’ll answer with the same availability as my email.
In the process I found new ways to engage myself and my patients–using QR codes, putting up a white board in the exam rooms, recommending apps.


Last year’s experience served to recharge my professional gusto. Patients are more interesting, I deal with the non-stop frustrations with more aplomb and less emotional exhaustion. I look forward to seeing my new friends on the #hcsm tweetchat on Sunday night. Suddenly the future of medicine looks a lot less lonely and a lot more interesting.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Finding a Better Way Down the Electronic Pathway

Clicking on a link from Twitter this morning, I read an article about how distracting email is in the workplace. That got me to thinking so I googled “digital distractions” and found this amusing infographic by David McCandless

It’s hard to see on my blog but my favorite part of the visualization are the words “partner shuts the lid of laptop on your fingers” encircling the star at the top. Sometimes I want to do the same to myself. One of the more physically painful manifestations of “too much computer” happened last week when my eyes began to sting, burn and water after going live with electronic medical records. Adding six more hours a day looking at the screen was some sort of ocular last straw.

In the risk vs. benefit analysis of computer use, where is the balance? Wednesday night I participated in an #mHealth twitter chat on the topic of “access to medical literature“. This was primarily about researching tools and how to find articles but because of the chat, it occurred to me just how often I utilize Twitter to access current medical information. Most of my contacts on Twitter are involved in mobile health or patient care so lots of very relevant information is tweeted and I click on the links. From genomes to medical policy to the latest treatments for atrial fibrillation, it all comes across the feed and when I have a moment I click, read or save and go on with life.

It’s still unclear to me how to balance my time, choose wisely with my clicks and still fill my life with all the other important moments. If someone else has found a better way down the electronic pathway, please let me know.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Lurking Physician

In addition to reading a number of medical bloggers, I “lurk” on twitter chats and try to watch twitter updates from the 88 people I am currently following. The majority of the people I follow are doctors who are interested in how social media can help patients, plus a few “learning” entities like Brainscape just to improve my language studying skills (which I highly recommend). I am just a neophyte to Social Media but am excited by its potential for my patients.


Suddenly the ability to followup with patients directly without a medical assistant playing messenger in between seems more attainable. Communications would be cleaner and both physicians and patients would be better served. Right now I do this on a small scale by using email but this is fraught with difficulty. Patients send me their information and sometimes they cannot open my email response because it is encrypted (per HIPPA requirements). Other times their emails are caught by my spam filter and I never see them! As I’ve written about in previous posts, there are recommendations by august bodies like the AMA on how to use email professionally but frankly, they are both out-of-date and a little out-of-touch with their recommendations. However, having said that, HIPPA fines are substantive so no one wants to be caught in the wrong while communicating with patients.

In the meantime, patients are becoming more web and social media savvy. It is exciting to have a patient come in who has been on the Mayo clinic website and is asking about what preventive steps they should be taking instead of me initiating the discussion. It makes me feel like a partner in their care instead of a mother giving advice. I am a mother and I enjoy that role. Nurturing is part of healthcare but when I feel more like the disciplinarian then an advisor, neither I nor the patient are likely to benefit.

The “early adopter” physicians and e-patients on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, among others, are working hard to improve the lines of communication so that patient care is better. It’s an exciting time to be involved and I am looking forward to learning more and sharing a lot.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather


Last night I participated in my second “Twitterchat”. With my first one I was simply a “lurker”, sitting in the background, watching the logistics and remarks. The topic of this one was mobile health, better know on-line as mHealth, and was sponsored by a group I follow on Twitter, iMedicalapps. This time I was an active participant as the group discussed several topics–how knowledgeable physicians are about mHealth, how it can help our patients and how to get more physicians to understand and use it.

While physicians have adopted personal use of Facebook and iPads in droves they are much more hesitant to use these tools on a professional basis for many reasons–time constraints, HIPAA concerns, no familiarity with the technology, etc. This Twitterchat’s purpose was to address those issues and see if individuals had ideas on how to make changes in physician habits.

After the chat was finished my reflections went somewhere along the lines of “Well that didn’t seem to be very helpful.” And then it hit me, the actual chat may not have been all that substantive, especially when everyone is talking at once and it is impossible to read all of the comments as they go whizzing by on the Tweetchat screen. What was of significance was meeting these individuals, seeing how they are approaching similar issues to your own and making contacts that could grow into collaborative efforts in the future. To quote Homer Simpson “DOH!”

Somewhere “out there” on the net, I read that Twitter is most akin to a giant cocktail party. It’s great metaphor but someday soon I hope to meet many of these fascinating people face-to-face. In the meantime I will lift a glass of wine as I tap my laptop keys and toast to this fascinating new technology.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Social Media and … mental health.

First of all–this blog has nothing to do with healthcare, other than my own mental health. This afternoon was a small demonstration of what an powerful tool social media can be. My husband was visiting our neighbor down the street for a play date for our airedale, Ensign.  The yard is large and somehow he found a way under the fence into the nature preserve behind. Tim called but Ensign had disappeared. While one friend combed the bushes in gloves and boots, four more of us looked through the neighborhood, knocking on doors and feeling frightened because we live in a VERY urban neighborhood full of heavy cars. Four hours later night fell and we had to give up the search. Nauseated and exhausted I texted a friend regarding our loss.

She suggested that I post the disappearance on Facebook. Not very hopeful, but needing something to do, I wrote a description of the dog, where he was last seen and included a picture. Within twenty-three minutes the following post appeared:

  • Whitney I know who has him!

  • Kathy Nieder You’re kidding?

  • Whitney No I’m not!

  • Whitney I’m waiting for him to give me his number so I can give it to you but he just posted that there was an Airedale terrier in his back yard and he lives in Clifton….

  • Ashley Lynn OMG I HOPE ITS HIM!

  • Barry I HOPE SO AS WELL…

  • Leigh US TOO!

  • Kathy Nieder IT’S HIM!!!!!

Our graphic artist friend Barry, who had been one of the four people combing the neighborhood, made up a poster and was on the way out the door to print several and hang them up when I called him with the news. So here is his post on my timeline:

Ensign had no idea what the fuss was about but my husband and I were ecstatic. As a bonus, I got to sleep last night, soundly and well.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather