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One of the key findings of the Social Oncology Report was that cancer conversations have become increasingly fragmented, specific and sophisticated. The number of journal articles posted to PubMed has increased 349% since 1999 – and the number of cancer-related conversations has exploded in similar fashion. As those cancer-specific conversations continue to grow, we wanted to take a closer look at the physicians who are driving them. This is the third in a series of posts on the subject, which hone in on conversations about breast cancer, gynecological cancers, prostate cancer, skin cancer, and lung cancer. You can see the first six, Doctors and Social Oncology: Trends in Physician ConversationsDoctors and Social Oncology: The MDs most active in leading online cancer conversationsDoctors and Social Oncology: The MDs most mentioned by their peers (skin cancer edition), The MDs most mentioned by their peers (lung cancer edition), The MDs most mentioned by their peers (prostate cancer edition), and Tracking cancer conversations online: the Social Oncology Project 2013 (Guest post on KevinMD.com) through the links above.

In our last post, we talked about the importance of physicians who are the most active in driving conversations about a topic area, because it isn’t just about health – or even cancer – anymore. Our healthcare conversations have become increasingly specialized and complex. Today, we’re going to go a level deeper and begin looking at which doctors are talked ABOUT the most – by their fellow MDs – in the context of a lung cancer. I’ve already sensed a little skepticism from some folks about the validity of this measurement – so let me tell you why I think it’s important.

Most of us are familiar with influence-rating tools like Klout or Kred. I think that, at some level, those tools have validity – but I don’t think that they are particularly sophisticated.  What’s much more interesting to me than knowing someone’s general, overall influence … is knowing how their peers see their influence on specific topics.  But although we can learn a tremendous amount by measuring things like the times that doctors are mentioned by their peers in association with a certain topic, or the number of times a certain link or domain is shared by doctors in association with a certain topic, it doesn’t take us all the way.  That’s why, in the final post in this series, I’m really excited to introduce some exploratory work that our team has done with Dr. Steve Kramer, President and Chief Scientist of Austin-based Paragon Science (@ParagonSci_Inc). Dr. Kramer has been behind some research that’s truly cutting-edge in terms of understanding the ways that information flows through online networks, and how studying that flow can go a long way towards predicting how certain kinds of information would flow through those networks in the future.

As a demonstration, Dr. Kramer was able to leverage some of the physician conversation data from the MDigitalLife Social Oncology Report (w.cg/tsop13) to perform an analysis of the social networks associated with them.

By analyzing the relationships between physicians (both passive, e.g., follower/following and active, e.g., mentioning each other) AND content (in the form of hashtags, keywords and links), it’s possible to visualize a network that’s organized based on an individual’s ability to share data virally throughout the network (see Figure 1, below).

Figure 1: All MDigitalLife Physicians, visualized*

When we hone in more narrowly on the network’s conversations on the topic of Breast Cancer, it gets even more interesting … and possible to move from literally millions of data points (authors, network connections, mentions, links, topical keywords and hashtags) to see the 20-or-so physicians, links and hashtags that are ultimately best-connected.

Figure 2: Physicians engaged in conversations about Breast Cancer

The individual physicians who are closest to the core based on this more sophisticated network analysis are Robert S. Miller (@rsm2800), Dena Attai (@DrAttai), Matthew Katz (@SubAtomicDoc), Julia Gralow (@JRGralow), Tina Hieken (@TJH0828), and Elaine Schattner (@ElaineSchattner) [side note – interesting to compare relative to their positioning on the “most-mentioned” list below!].

Figure 3: The physicians closest to the “central core” in breast cancer conversations (those best-positioned to drive breast-cancer-related content through the network)

And while there is much still to be explored in terms of utilizing these methods to analyze networks of physicians, I believe that it helps to address the concern expressed most eloquently by Sally Church (@MaverickNY) here. In one of the cancer type analyses we did, we looked at the web sites that were most frequently referenced by physicians when they discussed that type of cancer (a great proxy for “what content do physicians think is most credible”). In that particular cancer type, there was an individual physician blog we discovered that had more mentions than any other source – including major media like the New York Times and known influencers like KevinMD.com. But as it turns out, that site was referenced almost exclusively by the physician who owned the blog – and wasn’t referenced a single time by the doctors in the “central core” for that cancer type. Analysis like Dr. Kramer’s has great potential for deriving ever-deeper meaning from this type of online conversation analysis.

But without further ado, let me introduce you to the doctors who were most-mentioned by their peers in the context of our most-discussed cancer type – breast cancer. Be sure to give these docs a follow!

As you hover over the “Image Capsule” below, you can connect with links associated with each doctor & connect with them. Most importantly, the “Share” icon in the upper left can be used to share this capsule with any of your social networks or to embed it in your blog or web site.

For more information on the MDigitalLife Social Oncology project, please visit w.cg/tsop13. There, you’ll find the report itself, links to a series of expository blog posts, interviews with cancer experts from the #ASCO13 Annual Meeting, a full series of infographics like the one above, and media articles covering the study.

*Paragon Sciences visualizations leveraged the excellent work and tools described here: Alvarez-Hamelin, I., Dall’Asta, L., Barrat, A., and Vespignani, A., LaNet-vi: Large Network visualization tool, http://lanet-vi.soic.indiana.edu/.

HUGE thanks to my W2O Group colleagues Rami Lazarus, Franco GalimbertiKayla RodriguezAlim LeungScott Kramer and Matt Snodgrass for contributing to these amazing image capsules.

About two weeks ago we launched The Social Oncology Project.  As that project (and subsequent report) came to life, our focus was on uncovering insights by analyzing the numbers.

While we found the data interesting, we wanted to go a step further and include expert opinions because we think the stories of how social media gets used are a critical component to understanding where these tools are headed.  With that in mind, we headed to Chicago to speak with physicians, advocates and industry representatives about their use of social media.  Here’s a look at some of the things we learned:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjIknF_2zAw[/youtube]

  1. While some are more timid than others when it comes to social media, physicians are not afraid to get online.  Many recognize that it is a powerful tool for monitoring/tracking conversations and, in fact, a certain percentage is actively engaged in their field of expertise AND outside their field of expertise.
  2. One of the biggest barriers to physician use of social media appears to be time constraints/ competing priorities in their daily routine.
  3. If you’re interested in ASCO, there are definitely some ‘must follow’ people on twitter – and @MaverickNY and @adamfeuerstein  came up more than a few times.
  4. Social media is playing a significant – and still growing – role in patient education.  We heard about patient resources, educational videos, and group forums being shared online by The PAN Foundation,  Johns Hopkins , and Malecare, respectively.
  5. When it comes to social media, the pharmaceutical industry has made great strides over the last several years.  However, the lack of industry guidelines cannot continue to be an excuse from engaging with patients through channels they are active on.
  6. In the future, the use of social media within healthcare will become the norm. As platforms such as twitter become second nature, they won’t be considered time consuming and some believe social media will make its way into medical school curriculum.

For more information about ASCO 2013, check out these posts by colleague Brian Reid and friend Geoff Curtis.

You can view the full Social Oncology report, interviews and media coverage here: www.wcgworld.com/mdigitallife

Yesterday saw the opening of the Doctors 2.0 and You conference in Paris, France. We were lucky enough to participate in the twitter conversation happening at the hashtag #Doctors20 thanks in part to the global interest in the Social Oncology Project, and our follow-up post on Medcrunch.net (What we learned from studying 16 million cancer conversations per year). The conference hashtag is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re into a more global version of healthcare and social media.

Our team enjoyed what we saw so much that we decided to turn the Day 1 links that were shared at the conference into a downloadable eBook … it’s a great way to keep track of everything that’s been shared at the conference, on your iPad, Kindle, Nook, or whatever reader you favor … or you can embed it on your own blog or web site. Just click on the “Export” (download as an ebook) or “Share” (embed in your web site; share on twitter or facebook) buttons below. Enjoy!

One of the key findings of the Social Oncology Report was that cancer conversations have become increasingly fragmented, specific and sophisticated. The number of journal articles posted to PubMed has increased 349% since 1999 – and the number of cancer-related conversations has exploded in similar fashion. As those cancer-specific conversations continue to grow, we wanted to take a closer look at the physicians who are driving them. This is the third in a series of posts on the subject, which hone in on conversations about breast cancer, gynecological cancers, prostate cancer, skin cancer, and lung cancer. You can see the first two, Doctors and Social Oncology: Trends in Physician Conversations, and Doctors and Social Oncology: The MDs most active in leading online cancer conversations, through the links above.

In our last post, we talked about the importance of physicians who are the most active in driving conversations about a topic area. Today, we’re going to go a level deeper and begin looking at which doctors are talked ABOUT the most – by their fellow MDs – in the context of a certain topic area. I’ve already sensed a little skepticism from some folks about the validity of this measurement – so let me tell you why I think it’s important.

Most of us are familiar with influence-rating tools like Klout or Kred. I think that, at some level, those tools have validity – but I don’t think that they are particularly sophisticated.  What’s much more interesting to me than knowing someone’s general, overall influence … is knowing how their peers see their influence on specific topics. And that’s what we’ll be looking at for the next few days. There’s still a level deeper to go, so stay with me – but for now, let me introduce the physicians who have been most-mentioned by other doctors on the subject of skin cancer.

As you hover over the “Image Capsule” below, you can connect with links associated with each doctor & connect with them. Most importantly, the “Share” icon in the upper left can be used to share this capsule with any of your social networks or to embed it in your blog or web site.

For more information on the MDigitalLife Social Oncology project, please visit w.cg/tsop13. There, you’ll find the report itself, links to a series of expository blog posts, interviews with cancer experts from the #ASCO13 Annual Meeting, a full series of infographics like the one above, and media articles covering the study.

HUGE thanks to my W2O Group colleagues Rami Lazarus, Franco Galimberti, Kayla Rodriguez, Alim Leung, Scott Kramer and Matt Snodgrass for contributing to these amazing image capsules.

One of the key findings of the Social Oncology Report was that cancer conversations have become increasingly fragmented, specific and sophisticated. The number of journal articles posted to PubMed has increased 349% since 1999 – and the number of cancer-related conversations has exploded in similar fashion. As those cancer-specific conversations continue to grow, we wanted to take a closer look at the physicians who are driving them. This is the second in a series of 4 posts on the subject, which will hone in on conversations about breast cancer, gynecological cancers, prostate cancer, skin cancer, and lung cancer. You can see the first, Doctors and Social Oncology: Trends in Physician Conversations, through the link above.

In yesterday’s post, we focused on the key topics that have driven physician conversations for 5 types of cancer over the past 18 months. Today, we’re going to focus on which doctors are contributing most actively to those conversations. By looking at who’s doing the talking, we can get a picture of who’s most passionate about each topic … and about the audiences they’re trying to reach.

While the number of physicians who have “activated” online is experiencing amazing growth, the overall numbers are still relatively small – so even though our database contains over 4 million tweets at this point, when we dig into specific topics it’s possible for a relatively small number of physicians to dominate the conversation. For that reason, when sample sizes are small, I like to see topics that feature relatively more authors contributing relatively fewer tweets. as you can see from Figure 1, below, 3 of our our 5 cancer types have relatively more authors per tweet – which generally tends to democratize the conversation.

Figure 1: Number of Tweets/Number of Unique Authors

There’s another way to think about this phenomenon that may also be helpful. As we often find when analyzing online conversations, there is an 80/20 rule in play – that is, 80% of the content is created by the top 20% of the authors. We’ve held fairly close to that pattern here, too.

Figure 2: The 80/20 Rule – % of Tweets created by most active 20% of authors

As we look more deeply at the most active participants in these conversations, we can see an interesting, though not wholly unexpected, set of patterns forming relative to the specialties they represent.

 

Figure 3: Specialty Breakdown of 20 Most Active Authors, Gynecological Cancers

It’s interesting to see the number of pediatricians who’ve entered into this conversation – but the reason has a great deal more to do with vaccination guidelines than on cancer itself … with the recent controversy over HPV vaccine, pediatricians have been weighing in heavily – almost exclusively in favor universal vaccination.

Figure 4: Specialty Breakdown of 20 Most Active Authors, Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the only cancer in which the top 20 authors included such a significant percentage of surgeons – which is unsurprising given the importance of reconstructive surgery as a frequent part of the process.

 

Figure 5: Specialty Breakdown of 20 Most Active Authors, Prostate Cancer

The urologists clearly own the conversation around prostate cancer, and over the past year have been significantly more energized than in the past due to the recent controversy around the validity of the PSA test.

Figure 6: Specialty Breakdown of 20 Most Active Authors, Skin Cancer

It’s no surprise to see dermatologists so strongly represented among the top 20 authors in skin cancer conversations. What’s more interesting is what isn’t represented here … that after we get out of the top 20, there are a much larger number of family physicians and pediatricians, who are really active in terms of sharing information about preventing skin cancer by using sunscreen, dressing appropriately, and staying out of the sun.

 

Figure 7: Specialty Breakdown of 20 Most Active Authors, Lung Cancer

Lung cancer conversations, in addition to being the lowest-volume of the 5 we’ve looked at in this study, also has the most interesting diversity of specialists weighing in. I like the fact that the folks who are most focused on diagnosing lung cancer, the radiologists and pathologists, are playing a significant role in this conversation … in my experience anecdotally, these docs who often operate “behind the scenes” are starting to take a more active role in the overall conversation. I think that’s a good thing both for the medical community and for patients – their expertise often doesn’t receive the credit it deserves, in this author’s opinion.

This post couldn’t really be complete without sharing who these passionate, active and engaged physicians are. For the sake of space, I’ve only included the top 5 in each category here; however, the top 20 for each cancer type are available through the links below. They’re all worth a follow!

Top 5 Most Active Physicians per Cancer Type:

Gynecological Cancers Breast Cancer Prostate Cancer
Frederik Bloem Julie Gralow John Clay McHugh
Kevin Ault Naoto Ueno Matt Cooperberg
Jana Sullinger Melanie Bone Luke Nordquist
Kevin Windom Tina Hieken Christopher Bayne
Melanie Bone Deanna Attai David Samadi
Skin Cancer Lung Cancer
Tina Hieken David Tom Cooke
Adam Mamelak Michael Thompson
Jeff Benabio Mark Pool
Travis Kidner Timothy Craig Allen
Glenn Kolansky Anil Potti

Tomorrow, we’ll be taking our analysis to the next level. While today our focus was on the doctors who were most active in initiating conversations for each of these 5 cancer types, tomorrow we’ll be honing in on the doctors who are most often mentioned in the context of these cancer types … the ones who are most often mentioned, replied to, and retweeted by other physicians. In other words, the doctors who are deemed by their peers to have the most important things to say. Which makes them, at least among online physicians, the most influential in their respective fields. Stay tuned!

All data represented in this post were collected from the thousands of validated US physicians in the MDigitalLife database between January, 2012 and May 2013.

One of the key findings of the MDigitalLife Social Oncology Report 2013 was that cancer conversations have become increasingly fragmented, specific and sophisticated. The number of journal articles posted to PubMed has increased 349% since 1999 – and the number of cancer-related conversations has exploded in similar fashion. As those cancer-specific conversations continue to grow, we wanted to take a closer look at the physicians who are driving them. This is the first in a series of 4 posts on the subject, which will hone in on doctors’ conversations about breast cancer, gynecological cancers, prostate cancer, skin cancer, and lung cancer.

It’s been interesting to study the similarities and differences between physicians and the general population in relation these specific cancer-related topics. In the MDigitalLife Social Oncology Report 2013, my colleague Brian Reid reported on the events and topics that caused overall conversations to spike (see page 7 of the report). In general, the biggest drivers of public conversation on specific cancer related topics were:

  • [Cancer type] awareness months; and
  • News about celebrities experiencing cancer (either themselves or with a loved one)

We see those patterns continuing to some degree with physicians as well – For example, Breast Cancer Awareness Month was the most prevalent topic among doctors in their October spike (see Figure 1, below). Ian McKellen’s diagnosis of prostate cancer was in the top 4 subjects driving a December 2012 boost in conversations about prostate cancer (see Figure 2, below). However, while public conversation about prostate cancer saw a significant jump in November 2012 as a result of the “Movember” awareness campaign, physician conversations actually dropped in November after a huge spike in October (See Figure 2, below).

Let’s take a brief look at each of the 5 cancer types to analyze what drove the largest increases in physician conversations on the subject.

1. Breast Cancer

Figure 1: Trends in Physician Conversations about Breast Cancer

As mentioned above, the largest spike in physician conversations about breast cancer essentially mirrored that of the public – centering around Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 2012. It’s interesting to note, however, that we also see the beginning of an elevation in the “conversation floor” for breast cancer conversations – meaning that the average conversation level after the October spike is nearly twice as high as the average conversation level before the spike. This is a relatively common occurrence in online conversations … the events that drive spikes tend to penetrate deeply enough into the consciousness of the population that overall conversation levels increase.

2. Prostate Cancer

Figure 2: Trends in Physician Conversations about Prostate Cancer

The first major spike in physician conversations about prostate cancer happened in May of 2012. The spike was tied directly to the recommendation presented by the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF)on the validity of the PSA test in reducing mortality among prostate cancer patients. The second, much larger spike in October 2012 was the result of a Study at The Institute of Cancer Research in London developing blood test reading like genetic barcode that can identify the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer, and later in the month a discussion around a new and very expensive prostate cancer therapy.

3. Skin Cancer

Figure 3: Trends in Physician Conversations about Skin Cancer

May is skin cancer awareness month and brought lots of discussion on prevention and detection. In particular, there was an event called #MelanomaMonday (May 7th) that generated a lot of buzz. Created as an awareness-raising device by the America Academy of Dermatology, it’s a great example of how physicians can unite behind a common cause to drive greater awareness about critical health issues.

4. Gynecological Cancers

Figure 4: Trends in Physician Conversations about Gynecological Cancers

Gynecological cancers are far from being the most-discussed cancer type among physicians – but they have seen the largest jump in conversations (and as we’ll see in upcoming posts, the widest range in physician specialties leading the conversation). That spike in January 2013 was driven primarily by the fact that January is cervical cancer awareness month. Additionally, though, there was a large amount of conversation in January that could be attributed to a single physician who has a very negative view about HPV vaccines – and tweeted about it more than 4 times per day in January (accounting for 45% of the total volume of tweets for the month).

5. Lung Cancer

Figure 5: Trends in Physician Conversations about Lung Cancer

Online conversations about lung cancer are fascinating to watch – due largely to the massive discrepancy between the large number of people who die each year from it, and the low levels of corresponding conversation. This trend, which my colleague Brian Reid mentioned in the MDigitalLife Social Oncology Report 2013(see page 5 of the report), was echoed by physicians … in spite of what appears to be a significant pattern of peaks and troughs in the diagram above, the overall conversation volume about lung cancer is so low that they’re relatively insignificant. There are two spikes in lung cancer conversations that are particularly worth mentioning. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and the University of California Davis Comprehensive Care Center hosted a well-attended tweet chat  in recognition. Additionally, a new article predicting “Female Lung Cancer Rates to Skyrocket” drew a lot of attention. In February 2013, there was a lot of activity during the month about a study done on selection criteria for lung cancer screenings.

.

6. All Cancer Conversations

Figure 6: Trends in Physician Conversations about 5 Common Cancer Types

When viewed together, these conversation patterns tell some interesting stories:

  • While breast cancer does drive the largest volume of physician conversations, the difference is not nearly so severe as it is among the general populace – and in fact is now rivaled by prostate cancer and skin cancer.
  • The fastest-growing conversations are around gynecological cancers, and focus primarily on the issue of HPV vaccine. It will be interesting to monitor whether the awareness levels afforded these cancers (especially cervical cancer) during this period are sustainable, or whether they’ll fall to 2012 levels.
  • Skin cancer conversations are highly seasonal, and reflect the fact that physicians have done an excellent job of focusing on the “high-risk, low-effort” prevention topics that make up so many of our ailments (e.g., wear sunscreen, give your kids swimming lessons, make sure to vaccinate your kids, etc.)
  • Lung cancer, despite continuing to represent an enormous health risk, is lagging in terms of effective advocacy – due, we believe, to the current political incorrectness of its common association with smoking.
As cancer conversations become increasingly diverse, so do the doctors who champion them. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll examine the physicians who are most active in discussing each of these five forms of cancer. Stay tuned!

All data represented in this post were collected from the thousands of validated US physicians in the MDigitalLife database between January, 2012 and May 2013. 

 

With the 2013 version of SxSW Interactive in the books, it’s time for a look back on highlights, key trends (or lack of) and links to some of the awesome content we collected during the several events that we hosted during the event.

For starters, there really weren’t any big technologies that shined through at this SXSW like we’ve had at past events. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but likely more of an indication that it’s becoming harder and harder to break through all the noise at SXSW Interactive. There was a larger corporate presence than ever this year and that will likely be a continuing theme over the next few years as companies continue to embrace, grow and operationalize social, digital and mobile into their corporate DNA.

Social Commerce Summit

For W2O Group in particular, we had a very successful set of of events that kicked off with our Social Commerce Summit on Thursday, March 7. During this six hour event, we had 19 speakers each give 10 minute TED-like talks. The talks covered a range of topics including love, marriage and creating brand passion. We know it’s a lot of content but we hope you’ll take the time to watch the video (or at least read the highlights in the blog posts) from the speakers below.

We also had a few nice write ups from the event by former PR Week/current Holmes Report writer, Aarti Shah (here) and friend of W2O, Lisa Grimm (here).

In particular, we would like to thank our sponsors, Sysomos and BazaarVoice, for making all of our events during SXSW possible. They were (and are) great partners.

 

W2O Group Open House/Live from Stubbs Video Podcasts

While there weren’t any breakthrough companies this year at SXSW, we did have a number of themes crop up during our Social Commerce Summit and then again during our Live from Stubbs podcast tapings during our open house on Friday, March 8. In particular we heard a lot about big data, mobile, analytics and the operationalization of digital across the organization from many of our speakers/guests. There was also a significant amount of interest in our partner, SnapTrends, technology that provides for location-based analytics, a topic that W2O is quite bullish on.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be embedding the Live from Stubbs videos in blog posts on our Common Sense blog. In the meantime, you can check out all of the videos on our Youtube channel here. You can also read my Live from Stubbs co-host, Kyle Flaherty’s summary of our interview with Youtube’s Jeben Berg, here. When Kyle is not podcasting he is the VP of marketing at local analytics firm, 21CT who was kind enough to sponsor our Live from Stubbs videos. I would also like to thank local video production and strategy company, UPG for all of their brilliant work with both the Live from Stubbs videos as well as recording/editing all of our Social Commerce videos.

Geek-a-cue

Of course SXSW wouldn’t be what it is without a party. And party we did at our 4th annual Geek-a-cue on Saturday night at Franklin BBQ (ranked best BBQ in the U.S. by Bon Appetit Magazine). Fortunately the rain held off this year allowing us to eat fantastic BBQ, enjoy the brilliant music of local favorite, Monte Montgomery, share a few beverages, take funny photos in our photo booth and play a little Corn Hole out behind the tent.

This short video shot and produced by UPG does a wonderful job of summing up this fabulous event.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_TYROYXApk[/youtube]

We also need to thank Natalee Norwood and Spoiled Doves for producing our Geek-a-cue. Without all her creativity, foresight and elbow grease, this event wouldn’t be what it was. Thank you to Aaron and Stacy Franklin and the Franklin staff for use of their venue and all the mouth watering BBQ they served up with smiles on their faces.

Digital Brunch

Capping off the week, we hosted a digital brunch at our East Austin offices. In spite of threats of rain, the springing ahead of the clocks and a lot of hung over SXSW attendees, we still enjoyed over 125 visitors to our new offices. The petting zoo, chair massages, drinks (alcoholic and caffeinated) and gourmet brunch courtesy of local restaurant/catering company, Dai Due, probably didn’t hurt.

Biggest thanks of all go to the dream team at W2O Group of Erin Disney, Stephanie Layton, Blaire Borochoff and Katrina Hallowell for their months of hard work putting these events together. Huge props also go to our CEO, Jim Weiss and President, Bob Pearson for making these events possible. Last but not least, a shout out to all of our W2O Group employees who volunteered/attended as well as our clients for being an integral part of our SXSW experience. Thank you!

Last but not least, we also had a little fun with our #sxswpickuplines this year. Details are here. Video that put the cherry on the cake is below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR6kVwM2Gp8[/youtube]

In the midst of this week’s HIMSS conference in NOLA, my WCG colleagues and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at Twitter and the social habits among hospital CIOs. After all, hospital and health system CIOs are, in many respects, the architects and engineers of the nation’s healthcare transformation in progress. They are the most sought after audience at HIMSS…the reason the conference exists. But all of this richly deserved attention begs an obvious question: “What exactly are they thinking about and talking about these days?” As with most questions in life, Twitter provides a glimpse into the answer. So we put our heads together with our social analytics colleagues to crunch some big data; 13,000 Tweets and 8,000 bitly links later, we have some interesting answers.

There were many insights from the analytics we ran, but I will use this blog to call out three:

First, while more than 800 hospitals in the U.S. have Twitter handles, there are relatively few CIOs with individual handles (we counted 27 actively used handles among hospital CIOs and CMIOs – if we missed you, please do let us know). Texas and Massachusetts lead the pack with five Tweeting CIOs each, driven by a confluence of socially active CIOs at leading health systems in Boston and Dallas Forth Worth. Dr. Dirk Stanley (a CMIO with Cooley Dickinson Hospital) and Ed Marx (with Texas Health Resources) are the most active users of Twitter among their peers.

Next, it appears that hospital CIOs are avid readers of a number of leading news sites and healthcare blogs. Some of the most frequently linked to news sites are nytimes.com, npr.org (Scott Hensley), histalk2.com (Tim/Inga – take a bow), healthcareitnews.com (Bernie Monegain – you too!) and m.apnews.com (Lauran & team – well done!). Top blogs include BIDMC CIO Dr. John Halamka’s blog, Tara Parker Pope’s Well Blog for The New York Times, and the Harvard Business Review blog. It is worth noting that the Advisory Board’s content seems to be attracting an audience via advisory.com – and that WCG client Texas Health Resources is well-represented based on the activity of CIO Ed Marx and CMIO Ferdinand Velasco – in addition to Marx’ regular contributions to the aforementioned HISTalk2 blog.

And finally, we were curious to see what CIOs were tweeting about in comparison to the larger conversation taking place in digital health, to determine what topics are most resonating with them. Specifically, we compared the topics most oft-tweeted by hospital CIOs over the past year with how topics trended across all online news and tweets. Three things jumped out at us.

  • First, while mobile health is clearly on CIOs’ radars (the 7th most tweeted topic), it has been dominating the conversation in healthcare overall.
  • Though accountable care has been a big topic among Tweeting CIOs (#2 overall), ACOs have only recently become a similarly hot topic with all audiences (perhaps an example of where the rest of the industry is catching up?).
  • Last, we found that good, bad or indifferent, CIOs’ tweets reference the topic of electronic health records the most – by far (in future analyses, perhaps we will take a closer look at how much good/bad/indifferent and what is driving each). Lest EHR vendors take too much comfort from this data, meaningful use and health information exchange were topics not far behind at #5 and #9 respectively.

That’s what we found interesting, but what’s more interesting is hearing what caught your eye. Please check out the links to the analysis and data and share your comments and questions below. For more discussion about trends in digital health, please look us up at South by Southwest (SxSW) later this week as you leave the gumbo behind and continue the chat over some bbq (in the spirit of keeping this post healthful…extra lean bbq and hold the cornbread please!).

My colleague Greg Matthews has partnered with Kaiser Permanente on an initiative that has some pretty far-reaching implications for the way some of the key players in the health system engage with one another.  I had a chance to sit down with him this morning as he prepared for the public unveiling of that project in Washington, DC next week.

Aaron: You’ve been working on MDigitalLife for a few months now – how has that physician-centered analytics platform played a part in Kaiser Permanente’s bigger vision?

Greg: There was a lot of serendipity involved in this one.  Holly Potter, KP’s VP of Brand Communications and Murray Ross, the head of their Institute for Health Policy, had been working on an idea related to bringing the media and key policymakers into greater alignment about how to communicate with the American public about healthcare.  They’d recognized that different parts of the healthcare ecosystem had varied approaches to the kind of information they were making available.  And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it didn’t always make for a seamless experience for the growing body of healthcare consumers out there.

As you know, the MDigitalLife analytics platform is designed to help us better understand physicians’ online behavior.  When I talked to Holly and Murray, we realized that if we could actually quantify what we all instinctively knew about the varied perspectives between patients, doctors, policymakers and reporters, we might be able to build a basis for them to be better aligned – with the end result of helping Americans to more easily find the information they need in order to be healthy.

Aaron: Tell me more about those “varied perspectives” – what they are, and why its important to understand.

Greg: Sure.  We’ve already captured millions of pieces of content from physicians.  The way we do that is that we’ve linked doctors’ twitter handles to their National Provider Identifier number so that we can validate exactly who they are, where they practice, etc.  That’s something that’s normally pretty hard to do with twitter, simply because every individual makes a decision about what information they’re going to share about themselves through that channel.  Once we’ve matched their twitter handle to their NPI, we literally pull in everything they tweet into the MDigitalLife database.  And what’s new for this analysis is that we’re not just collecting tweets.  80% of physicians’ tweets link to some other piece of content on the web.  We’re actually pulling in the content that they’ve linked to as well – which makes for a much richer set of data to analyze when you compare it against the 140 characters you get in a tweet.

In order to conduct this analysis, we created two new bodies of data based on the MDigitalLife model: To track policy-related conversations, we collected the tweets from all 458 members of the 112th US Congress who had identifiable twitter accounts.  And then, working with our clients at Kaiser Permanente, we identified over 150 top journalists who cover healthcare issues.  For the journalists, in addition to their tweets and links, we also collected over 35,000 articles they’d written.

Once we’d collected all that data, the real fun started … we sorted all of their data into meaningful topics that included both diseases (using the CDC’s Disease and Disorder Compendium as a guide) as well as broader healthcare topics like Pregnancy, Electronic Medical Records, Vaccination, etc.  Then it was a matter of figuring out which topics each of our audiences gravitated towards.  And we were able to use some of the great patient-focused research published by people like Susannah Fox from the Pew Internet and American Life project to guide the ways that we queried the data, ensuring that we were incorporating the patient’s needs and perspectives into every aspect of the work.

Aaron: There is an event next Tuesday, February 26 at 1 PM ET, can you talk about what the event is about?

Greg: This is the really exciting part for all of us.  Kaiser Permanente is convening an event they’ve dubbed “American Voices – Aligned for Health.”  They’ll be hosting 80 guests in their fabulous Center for Total Health in Washington, DC – all of who represent some segment of the healthcare ecosystem.  After I introduce an overview of the data, there’s going to be a panel discussion that should be very cool.  It’ll include Kaiser Permanente’s associate physician-in-chief, Rahul Parikh, MD (representing the Doctors’ voice); Politico’s Health Care Editor Joanne Kenen (representing policy influencers); MomsRising.org’s campaign director Monifa Bandele (representing patients); and Bloomberg’s health policy reporter Alex Wayne (representing journalists).  It’ll be moderated by Dr. Robert Pearl, executive director and CEO of the Permanente Medical Group.

The idea is that this group of people will explore the roots and reasons for today’s different approaches, but will mostly be about laying the groundwork for better inter-group communication – and ultimately better alignment in the ways that they talk about health.  There will be a robust Q&A time for the attendees (almost all of whom could have been panelists themselves) to talk about advancing the dialog.  And we’re all hoping that this is going to serve as just a beginning of a much bigger, sustained initiative that KP is well-positioned to lead and support.

Aaron: For people who’re interested in attending, what’s the mechanism for doing so?

Greg: We’ve been really gratified to see that not only is the event teed up to get great coverage from around the world, those 80 seats have been filling up fast.  For folks who would like to participate live in Washington, they can register (and get lots more logistical information) here: AVA4H.eventbrite.com.

For those who would like to participate, but won’t be able to make it to Washington, KP has organized a live webcast (including both video and presentation materials).  It’s completely open to the public, though you do need to register in advance.  You can do so here: w.cg/AVA4Hweb. And finally, given the nature of the subject matter, I’m expecting a lot of twitter activity – you’ll definitely want to follow the hashtag #AVA4H to stay in tune with all the action – and to join the conversation.

Aaron: Sounds like a terrific start to an important journey.  Thanks, Greg – and good luck!  You can follow Greg on Twitter @chimoose, and Kaiser Permanente at @KPNewsCenter.

The Event: American Voices – Aligned for Health (#AVA4H). Register herehttp://AVA4H.eventbrite.com

Please join us on February 26, 2013 from 1:00 – 3:00 PM at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in Washington, DC.