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With the cost of healthcare on the rise, it’s no surprise that players from across the health ecosystem are coming together to solve some of our biggest problems in terms of ensuring access to the right care at a reasonable price. That’s part of the work that Yousuf Zafar, MD has been focused on for the last several years.

It’s should also be no surprise that as leading thinkers like Dr. Zafar grapple with this thorny problem, that one of the tools fueling his research and spreading the results of his findings lies in YZafarsocial media.

Dr. Zafar is a GI Oncologist at DukeHealth and a health services researcher with a focus in improving care delivery for patients with advanced cancer. He has participated in multiple studies focusing on access to care, cost of care, and comparative effectiveness of care delivery between health systems. His primary area of interest is in the cost of cancer care with a special focus on its patient impact. His current work in this arena is focused on patient preferences regarding cost-related communication and decision-making.

Dr. Zafar was a very early adopter of twitter, having been active on the platform since 2007. “I use other platforms personally, but for professional purposes, twitter is definitely the best tool for me,” he told me in a brief interview yesterday. He’s been identified as one of the “Featured Voices” at the ASCO annual meeting in Chicago (#ASCO16), a good choice – the number of Dr. Zafar’s physician followers on twitter puts him in the 97th percentile of all US oncologists. He has been actively involved in the online backchannel of #ASCO16 this far. Below is a map of the physician-to-physician conversations on the first day of ASCO (June 3) – as you can see, Dr. Zafar’s twitter handle (@yzafar) is quite central to the conversation. [NOTE: Click up the number of nodes on the chart to see the full conversation; it’s even more dramatic when you “zoom out.”

That active involvement has resulted in additional visibility for Dr. Zafar and his work – and bringing increasing attention to the issues around healthcare costs is really important to him. “One of the things that has been great to see at ASCO is that we’ve not only been using social media to help connect physicians to the latest research, but also to help patients relate their own stories and experiences to that research,” says Dr. Zafar. In fact, Dr. Zafar tends to learn as much from patients and their experiences as they do from him. “It’s really tough for a clinician who typically only has a few minutes with a patient to truly understand all of the issues associated with their broader experience of care.” Social media has helped to fill that gap.

In one of Dr. Zafar’s abstracts, he summarizes the situation in a very powerful way:

“Long-term solutions must focus on policy changes to reduce unsustainable drug prices and promote innovative insurance models. In the mean time, patients continue to struggle with high out-of-pocket costs. For more immediate solutions, we should look to the oncologist and patient. Oncologists should focus on the value of care delivered, encourage patient engagement on the topic of costs, and be better educated on financial resources available to patients. For their part, patients need improved cost-related health literacy so they are aware of potential costs and resources, and research should focus on how patients define high-value care. With a growing list of financial side effects induced by cancer treatment, the time has come to intervene on the “financial toxicity” of cancer care.”

– S. Yousuf Zafar, MD (JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2016) 108 (5): djv370
doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv370)

That shared responsibility for driving change is very consistent with what we’ve seen in the online health ecosystem – the convergence of health conversations among clinicians, patients, caregivers, policymakers, the media and the industry itself. Our thanks to Dr. Zafar for his great work & for taking the time to talk to us. Be sure to follow him on twitter (@yzafar) and in the media.

For more information about the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem and to download the 2016 Social Oncology Project report, just click below.

TheSocialOncologyReport-Cover-HiRes

Click to Download the 2016 Social Oncology Project Report


Learn more about W2O Group:  About  Work  Contact

Over the last several years, we’ve had the opportunity to study several people in the online health ecosystem who play multiple stakeholder roles (e.g., Patient-Peschattnerhysician or Patient-Journalist). Today I’m featuring one of the rare people who actually plays 3 pivotal roles in the online health ecosystem – Elaine Schattner, MD.

When she was practicing, Elaine was highly respected for her clinical acumen. But she’s also a breast cancer survivor and a noted healthcare journalist (she’s a regular contributor at Forbes, among others). This has given her a truly unique perspective on the way that different populations perceive and interact with the healthcare system – and their own health.

The way that Elaine engages online reflects her multiple perspectives – and her broad interests. During calendar year 2015, she mentioned 1,327 unique twitter handles (including at least 171 doctors, 77 patients, 173 reporters and 134 media outlets). She also shared links to 570 different outlets (including sources as diverse as Medscape, Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine, StatNews.com, Brainpickings.com and PeterUbel.com.)

And her audience is equally diverse. Among her more-than 11,600 followers are at least 1,200 physicians (putting her in the 99th percentile of doctors most followed by her US peers) and remarkably over 1,100 patients, caregivers and patient advocacy groups – more than any other US Oncologist. And it’s not just Elaine’s following that’s particularly strong and diverse; she also engages that audience broadly with the content she shares. During 2015, she was mentioned (or her articles linked to) over 3,600 times by nearly 1,000 people and organizations in the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem database. And those engagements reflect her audience’s diversity as well:

  • 42% from fellow physicians
  • 35% from patients, caregivers and patient advocacy groups
  • 10% from reporters and media outlets
  • 13% from people and organizations in the healthcare industry

It’s a rare individual, physician or not, that can reach an audience of that size, breadth and relevance to the healthcare system. What is it that’s makes Dr. Schattner so successful in building and engaging that audience?

“On social media, as in real life, many people – in their social groups, or among colleagues – tend to nod their heads, to reiterate or rephrase what’s popular, or what they think their employer or network will favor. On twitter, that ends up generating a lot of retweets within groups of like-minded followers. But that kind of chatter doesn’t broaden anyone’s knowledge base; it reinforces silos. It’s neither interesting, nor helpful to science, or health, or anything really. I like to add new ideas to a conversation. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

– Elaine Schattner, MD

SchattnerMostFollowersSnapshot-300x203Dr. Schattner has been particularly impactful in the online conversation about breast cancer. Among the tens of thousands of participants in that conversation from the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem, Dr. Schattner is the 3rd most-followed, behind only USA Today healthcare reporter Liz Szabo (@LizSzabo) and #BCSM twitter chat co-moderator Deanna Attai, MD (@DrAttai) – and followed closely by #BCSM chat co-moderator and breast cancer survivor Alicia Staley (@stales). This is even more intriguing, because Dr. Schattner rarely participates directly in the #BCSM chat – a huge driver of conversation in the breast cancer community.

“I don’t often participate in twitter chats. They provide great value for many people, but don’t fit very well with my preferred mode of engagement. I tend to have more one-on-one or small-group conversations. When things move so quickly – as they do in twitter chats, it’s harder for me to be able to do really get to know people and to understand their perspectives.” – Elaine Schattner, MD

The rise of the social media has completely changed the way that the health ecosystem interacts. As health becomes an increasingly important topic in the 21st century, the ability to connect the stakeholders – all of them – is both valuable and necessary. Led by pioneering bridge-builders like Dr. Elaine Schattner, we can be confident that a shared understanding is both possible and on its way more quickly than we could have imagined.

“I’ve always been the kind of person who speaks her mind. I’m not afraid to say and write what I think, and as an independent journalist I am free to do so. I’m not afraid to challenge the opinions of powerful individuals, including physicians in positions of leadership, journalists and others. People know that about me, and maybe some respect me for doing so. Pretty much everything I say, or share on-line, reflects what I think matters for patients. Some may trust me for that reason, even when they disagree.”

– Elaine Schattner, MD

TheSocialOncologyReport-Cover-HiRes

Click to Download the 2016 Social Oncology Project Report


Learn more about W2O Group:  About  Work  Contact

Something unusual happened in Congress in early July — an overwhelming bipartisan approval for a health care bill. But despite the 344-77 vote for the 21st Century Cures Act, the increasingly vocal opposition from oft-quoted critics of pharmaceutical, biotech and device companies should be taken as a warning sign for advocates who want to see this measure become law.

The bill is designed to boost drug discovery and help get patients with rare diseases additional access to treatments and cures, mostly through various reforms of the FDA approval process as well as additional funding for the National Institutes of Health.  (The Regulatory Affairs Professional Society has done a terrific explainer for those who want to dive into the deep details.)

More than 700 groups, from the Alzheimer’s Association to the American Society for Clinical Oncology, to patient-focused rare disease groups to companies and trade associations in the pharmaceutical, biotech and devices spaces, support the Cures bill. That support has shown up in traditional spaces such as Capitol Hill visits, as well as digital campaigns on Facebook and Twitter (#Path2Cures, #Cures2015.)

As it should be, the focus of these efforts has been on the benefits for patients with challenging diseases. Even rank-and-file House members have gotten into the act, such as in this short video from Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI).

The critics emerge

Yet now with the bill headed to the Senate, that kind of organized support may be even more important. Media-friendly experts such as Rita Redberg, editor of JAMA Internal Medicine, and cardiologist Steve Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, are being quoted in articles criticizing the Cures bill. The New York Times’s editorial board, often taking cues from the opposition groups, criticized the legislation last week, though it stopped short of saying the entire effort should be scrapped.

The challenge now for those who want to see the bill through the Senate – in addition to trying to avoid big arguments about petty differences as the process unfolds — is to continue to emphasize the real world impact the bill would make. Patients who could benefit from expanded access to “compassionate use” of drugs should be front and center. Groups who want to see “patient experience data” folded into regulatory decisions – because different patients may have different risk tolerances – should be talking more often. And, to reflect the widespread backing for increased research funding that is in the Cures bill (nearly $9 billion extra for the National Institutes of Health over the next five years), scientific experts should be explaining over and over the need for new discovery.

Where are the physicians?

A quick review of our MDigitalLife database—a validated list of U.S. doctors with digital footprints—suggests that physicians aren’t out in droves driving the conversation. That means some of the most trusted voices on the subject of medicine haven’t been heard from yet, and doctors could yet shape this debate. Communicators trying to line up new wrinkles for the continuing campaign to pass the Cures bill should consider engaging with physicians. As our colleague Greg Matthews has written, physicians are not only active on social media, they often influence news coverage.

Conversation about the Cures bill seems likely to spike again in mid-September, when a hearing or hearings could be held in Senate committees. We’ll continue to monitor and look for new and old voices influencing the debate as action develops over the fall. Senate leaders have signaled that they will write their own version of a Cures bill, which could extend the discussion about this legislation until early 2016.

Reporters covering the legislative process will likely focus on the lobbying effort and the political clout of the industries backing the bill. This makes the real world stories – and the use of paid, earned, shared and owned content online – even more important for a successful campaign in the months ahead. The next treatment or cure could be dependent on it.

By Gary Karr and Brian Reid

Greg Matthews (MDigitalLife), Maureen Carlson (GoodScout) & Dede Stefano (MDAnderson) hosted a panel during the #SXW2O Pre-Commerce Summit to announce the release of a new report, “Decoding The Cancer Center Constituent”, exploring the behavioral patterns of Cancer Centers constituents.

“Good Scout Group and MDigital Life came together with a shared belief that data compels your smarter story. Whether it is the ammunition to convince a company you are a right-fit partner or the analytics to craft actionable marketing and media strategies, knowing more can be the differentiator that ignites success. In the spirit of knowing more and doing more with that knowledge, we collectively set out to profile the unique attributes of the cancer center constituent. Decoding The Cancer Center Constituent outlines specific brand preferences, lifestyles and key interests of individuals that currently follow the top 50 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the U.S.” Using MDigitalLife, W2O Group and Good Scout Group conducted a psychosocial profiling study to identify specific behaviors, affinities and conversations of U.S.-based cancer center constituents. The sample set included 10,000 handles following at least one of the top 50 cancer centers.

Matthews explained the need for cancer centers to know their audience, “As healthcare has changed we have seen a real need to understand who our audiences are online.” More important than just knowing who your audience is, knowing what they say and who they follow is crucial. “If you consider who you are following on twitter it actually says a lot about what you like – who you are. By looking at the followers of an organization we can understand what they are about. In this report we looked at the twitter followers for all of the comprehensive cancer centers in the United States and we looked at how the accounts that those folks followed compared to a normative data set. It gave us a sense of how the audiences of the cancer centers are different than the audiences of other organizations.”

Good Scout President, Maureen Carlson shared some key insights from the report with the audience at Pre-Commerce. Based on the cancer center constituents research, 61% of cancer center followers are female, the overall audience tends to be predominantly white/non-hispanic and over 75% are ages 18-45. Top brand affinities included Walgreens, Microsoft & Nordstroms. Carlson explained: “We learned that there is a highly engaged user base, that is very interested and connected to healthcare. Many are engaged users but they are not acting, not donating to these cancer centers. If you look at the top 3 consumer brands you see Walgreens, Microsoft & Nordstroms. We need to know this information in order to align our messages with the brands our constituents are following. We should be looking at this data to cross reference with these brands to understand how we are doing.”

Finally, Dede Stefano, Executive Director of Corporate Alliances at MD Anderson explained the challenges her organization faces, “Our challenge is 2 fold: federal funding for cancer research is flat at best. We also are about to have a crisis because cancer is a disease of the elderly… The good news is people are living longer but that is also the bad news. The population is quickly aging.”

Stefano and her organization see value in the information uncovered in the report, “Reports like this are very important because it gives the ability to target our corporate partners by brand affinity and we want to make sure that our audience is aligned. This report gives us a strategic and tactical way to do that. It gives us the ability to educate our consumers and our brands. We need to use every tool in our arsenal to make these smart decisions. We cannot afford to ignore the data.”
To download the entire report visit http://www.goodscoutgroup.com/decodingcancer/
For more information on our SXW2O events and our speakers, please visit our website: http://w2oevents.com
Missing the forest for the trees

This is a question that we healthcare communicators have been fielding from clients (and, frankly, discussing among ourselves) since the advent of social media as we try to engage with healthcare professionals.

Some have maintained that physicians’ level of tech-savvy rivals the quality of their handwriting – not so great. Forced to be connected only by the mandate of electronic health records, physicians aren’t active online due to packed appointment schedules, privacy concerns or the desire to remain unbiased as related to their health system or practice.

A new report by my colleague Greg Matthews, called “Missing the Forest For the Trees”, lays this old stereotype to bed. According to a 2012 study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, cited by Matthews, 61% of physicians scan social media for medical information weekly, while another 46% contribute to that information on a weekly basis. In addition, online social channels are having an impact on clinical decisions – according to a Manhattan Research study also cited in the book, 39% of doctors say that the information they receive from social channels is influential to very influential on their clinical decisions.

I don’t want to give away too much of “Missing the Forest For the Trees” – it’s a quick, worthwhile read – but all these stats point to our need, as healthcare companies and communicators, to be online learning from and engaging with doctors. Physician-directed content strategy for platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn, will be seen by physicians, and sponsored ads make it easier than ever to target the right ones. Matthews makes another critical point – there is a tremendous opportunity for companies to harness the power of online physician advocates, engaging them to spread the word about our therapy, device or awareness building effort. Physicians are our “citizen” journalists.

Matthews has led the development of MDigitalLife, a database that has indexed the digital footprints of nearly a half-million physicians around the world. This data can be harnessed by healthcare companies in a myriad of ways including influencer identification and conversation analysis. MDigitalLife is also a great source for research about physician online activity with a treasure trove of free resources on its website.

Social media is not new, but this way of thinking about physicians on social media is, and healthcare companies who engage physicians through social media very well may find a new partner in spreading the word.

For a free copy of “Missing the Forest For the Trees” please visit http://bit.ly/missingtheforest. And, to learn more about MDigitalLife, go to MDigitalLife.com.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The most exciting innovation of the connected health era is … people talking to each other.”

Susannah Fox from Peer-to-peer health care is a slow idea that will change the world on susannahfox.com, August 3, 2013

The concept of the empowered patient isn’t a new one – in fact, that characterization has evolved rapidly over the last several years. According to Health Online 2013 (Pew Internet & American Life Project, Susannah Fox) patients have actually advanced their level of empowerment from simple information-seeking to actual diagnosis – acceding to the report, 35% of American adults can now be classified as “Online Diagnosers.”

“As physicians, we have a moral responsibility to weigh in on dangerous inaccuracies in the media … Imagine a simple comment from … each of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 65,000 pediatricians. We are in a position to own the search engines through our collective participation.” 

Bryan Vartabedian, MD from Participating in the conversation: A physician’s responsibility. Baylor College of Medicine Blog, August 7, 2013

We’ve seen a parallel movement among physicians in terms of online activity. Driven by a number of environmental factors. One of the most important is to balance the enormous amount of misinformation and spam online masquerading as health information – because doctors have the knowledge and experience to set the balance right. 

These two trends have begun to collide as never before. The best doctors are often the best students – they literally never stop learning and improving. Many of these leading-edge physicians have recognized that one of the greatest sources of learning are patients themselves.

“I do interact with patients online … I like to hear the stories about health issues they’re facing, and to follow their journeys … It helps me to understand what patients expect – or at least hope for – from their doctors.”

Danielle Jones, MD. Danielle Jones, MD – The MDigitalLife Interview. September 21, 2012

We’re now seeing a migration from relatively segregated Patient-Patient and Doctor-Doctor communities to online communities where both mingle freely, sharing and learning together. One of the most fascinating places to map that circumstance is on twitter, where the study of direct conversations between doctors and patients can be visualized to help us understand how those networks function. 

[If you have trouble viewing the embedded social network map, you can go directly to http://bit.ly/epatientdoc]

To create the chart below, we looked at the twitter conversations of 89 prominent ePatients and ePatient advocates to see how often they used the twitter handle (e.g., @DrAttai) of one of the more than 14,000 validated US physicians tracked in the MDigitalLife database. We then looked at the tweets from the 297 doctors mentioned by the ePatients, and identified every instance in which one of the ePatients was mentioned.

Using Google Fusion Charts, we were able to visualize those interactions to show the interconnectedness between the ePatients (yellow dots) and physicians (blue dots). Feel free to play around with the chart by dragging network nodes to change its shape, and buy changing the filters to show more or fewer nodes. 

While it’s difficult to gain many insights from viewing every single interaction, we found that when we looked only at doctors and patients who had interacted with each other at least 15 times, identifiable clusters began to emerge. A few examples:

  • There are clear communities based on therapeutic areas such as breast cancer (@DrAttai), heart health (@HugoOC) and blood cancers (@myelomateacher)
  • While there may be fewer online interactions outside the specialty/therapeutic area classification, ePatients and advocates like Dave DeBronkart (@ePatientDave) and Lisa Field (@PracticalWisdom) have a massive number of connections to the physician community, with no apparent focus on specialty
  • To a lesser degree, doctors like Bryan Vartabedian (@doctor_v), Howard Luks (@hjluks) have significant connections in the ePatient community that have little to do with their medical specialties (pediatric gastroenterology and orthopedic surgery respectively)

While it’s premature to assume that we fully understand the nature of those interactions, we can generalize in saying that these bellwether patients and doctors get benefit from their interactions in a more “meta” sense – they’re exploring the very nature of the evolving doctor-patient relationship.

I’ll end this post with a quote from one of my co-panelists at this week’s Digital Health Summit:

“Patients often only bring their narratives to the dialogue. If we want to get a proper seat at the table we need to do better than that.” 

Hugo Campos, ePatient Advisor, Stanford Medicine X

I’m fortunate to be on a panel at this week’s Digital Health Summit at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with leading ePatients Hugo Campos and Donna Cryer; moderated by health technology thought leader Neil Versel  If you’re interested, you’ll definitely want to follow along with the #DHCES hashtag on twitter on Wednesday and Thursday, January 8 and 9. Our panel will be at 4:10 PM PST/1:10 PM EST on Wednesday the 8th, and is entitled “Loudmouth Patients: Making Noise and Making Change.”

With special thanks to the brilliance and hard work of Ben McKown and Yash Gad – they make data do strange and wonderful things!

[Note: This post offers an exclusive opportunity for doctors to receive an “alpha” version of the Online Activation for Physicians eBook; read on for details]

Face it:  Thinking that a re-tweeting of how much we want more doctors on Twitter by next year is just preaching to the social media choir.  After all, those on social media are already supporters.  How do we get physicians who are not on social media to understand its potential value to them?
– Dr. Westby Fisher, Let’s start a grassroots physician social media movement (via KevinMD.com, December 31, 2013)

Having studied physicians’ online behavior for more than 5 years now, I’ve had a chance to see the highs and lows of their adoption of social media. Doctors like Mike Sevilla, Wendy Sue Swanson, Bryan Vartabedian, and Jordan Grumet have been online for years and years – and seeing them leverage the power of social media to connect, organize and re-establish the voice of the physician in public health dialog has been an incredible inspiration to me and many others. It’s why I started to write about physician innovators under the MDigitalLife banner in 2012, and have featured these folks and many others for their work.

Dr. Westby Fisher is another one of those pioneers – though one I haven’t had the opportunity to meet personally. In the piece that I quoted above (which is a must-read, by the way), Dr. Fisher notes that physician engagement in social media isn’t going to become the norm just because social media is “cool.” It’s only going to happen en masse when more doctors see a clear value proposition in investing their precious time in pursuing that engagement.

I’ve had the opportunity over the last two years to train over 100 doctors in the W2O Group’s “Online Activation” model. As that model has evolved, there are a few things I’ve found to be most impactful in terms of “unlocking” doctors in social media:

  • Spending more time than you’d think on goal-setting … what is it that each person actually hopes to achieve in their career, their practice, their research, etc.
  • Explaining that social media isn’t just about yapping incessantly. Our model has 4 components: Read, Connect, Share and Create – and we don’t even cover the “creation” aspect in the initial coaching session!
  • Removing tactical roadblocks – the most basic “how-to” of using social media tools and channels to achieve each doctor’s “use case”
  • Showing real examples of doctors who are using social media to add value to their particular set of goals

It’s this last item that Dr. Fisher’s blog post called to mind.

Those of us who are believers have to show them a well-organized RSS feed reader containing journal articles and news reports they’re want to say up up to date with and likely read.  We have to show them how to use social media to collaborate (in near real-time) with colleagues to write an article or crowd-source a talk.  We need to show them the contacts — many who they’d recognize — you’ve made around the globe.  Show them how they can lurk and get the information they need without having to expose themselves to any potential legal issues. 
– Dr. Westby Fisher, Let’s start a grassroots physician social media movement (via KevinMD.com, December 31, 2013 – emphasis mine)

To that end, I decided to answer Dr. Fisher’s request – by sharing a bundle of RSS feeds representing the blogs of over 60 doctors (note: this is scratching the surface; we’re tracking over 2,500) using an amazing reading tool called Feedly*. So without further ado, here’s your physician-blogger “starter list” – along with the “alpha” version of the Online Activation Planning for Physicians eBook.

To subscribe to our list of physician blogs:

  1. Sit down at your laptop or desktop computer (This initial step can’t be taken via tablet or smartphone yet. After this initial step, you’ll be able to do everything via web, tablet or smartphone at your discretion).
  2. Download this OPML file you’ll find here [bit.ly/docopml] and save it to your desktop (Don’t try to open it; it’s gobbledygook to look at on its own).

If you’re already a Feedly user:

  1. Log in to your feedly account.
  2. Under the “My Feedly” menu, click “Organize”
  3. Select “Import OPML”
  4. Click “Choose File” and select the file you just downloaded
  5. Click the blue “Import” button

If you’re not a Feedly user, just follow the steps in this Slideshare presentation:

And if you’re a doctor and would like to get a copy of the “alpha” version of the “Online Activation for Physicians” ebook, just complete this form and I’ll email you a copy.

If you’d like to know more about our MDigitalLife program for understanding, engaging and activating physicians online, feel free to email me at gmatthews@wcgworld.com. Thanks to Dr. Fisher for giving the right airtime to this important topic!

*There are many reasons that we use Feedly for this purpose, but the most important ones are: (A) It presents a beautiful and consistent reading experience on the web, tablets and smart-phones. (B) It allows 1-click sharing and saving to any social network or note-taking tool. (C) The Feedly leadership team loves the idea of a reader tool as a part of the revolution in physician communications, and have been working with my team to add new features that support that goal even more seamlessly.

Ever since we launched MDigitalLife at the Mayo Clinic last October (KevinMD Article; Slideshare Presentation), our team at the W2O Group has been going full blast to build out the software platform for creating Custom Search Engines. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, I think that I can get you up to speed pretty quickly with this mini-glossary:

Upside-Down (Audience-Focused) Analytics: “Traditional” social analytics looks at the entire web through a lens of keywords that define a topic in order to fully understand that topic as it lives online, including knowing the people who are talking about it. Audience-focused analytics looks at the web through a lens of a very specific, finite audience in an attempt to understand everything that they say and do. It’s the closest online equivalent we have to the marketing research focus group.

Custom Search Engine: The software that lets us take any list of people or entities, quickly build out the full “digital footprint” for those entities (e.g., web site, blog, twitter, facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) and then query that database on any subject.

MDigitalLife: The first and only database of physicians’ online profiles that’s tagged to a national physician registry. It allows us to drill into any topic and understand how doctors are talking about it; how often they’re talking about it; to whom they’re talking about it; where they get their most trusted information about it, etc.

With that background, let me introduce the latest entry into the world of custom search engines:

We debuted this data set recently at the Texas Hospital Association’s annual Communications Summit in Austin, Texas and got some terrific feedback. Given the turmoil associated with the US Healthcare system today, we know that understanding the players is the equivalent of having a good engine and a strong rudder when navigating tricky currents. That’s what gets us so fired up about having access to not only a window into the online world of physicians, but of hospitals as well … and these are only the first. Stay tuned for more Custom Search Engine work in the weeks and months ahead!

For those who’d like to know more about the concept of Upside-Down Analytics, I have posted a 10-minute presentation I gave at the 2013 Social Commerce Summit in March of 2013 … Let me know if you’re interested in the 2014 version, to be held in Austin just before South by Southwest’s Interactive (SxSWi) conference begins on March 6.

 

We need to come out of the reading room – both literally and figuratively – to engage more proactively and meaningfully with referring physicians and patients. The fact is that patients will receive better care – and outcomes – with a more engaged radiologist.

Roger Eng, MD – President-Elect of the California Radiological Society

OK – Raise your hand if you LOVE your radiologist. [If you are married to a radiologist, you’re disqualified – put your hand down.] I’m not seeing many hands. What’s that? You don’t know who your radiologist is? If you don’t, you’re not unique. Yet radiologists have become increasingly important in the healthcare delivery system. For those of you who aren’t “medically inclined,” Radiologists are medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries using medical imaging techniques, such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound (Definition courtesy of the American College of Radiology).

I’m guessing that a few bells are starting to ring now – we’re all familiar with X-rays, MRIs and CT scans at this point. But what most of us don’t realize is that radiologists are usually behind the scenes – completely invisible to the patient. Most of their work is done in a “reading room” that’s completely separated from the exam rooms frequented by patients. It’s quite common for the radiologist to make an analysis of the test results they’re shown, write a report for the referring physician, and send the report back – and that’s the sum total of the engagement in the process.

Yet now, more than ever, the expertise of the radiologist needs to be an integrated part of the continuum of care. Dr. Cynthia Sherry chairs the Radiology Department at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas, and is also the Chief Medical Director for the Radiology Leadership Institute. The RLI, a program of the American College of Radiology, is designed to reshape the future of the practice of Radiology.

The old stereotype of the “disengaged radiologist” in the back room absolutely needs to change. Imaging has become such an important part of health care delivery today that virtually all patients have an imaging test of some kind. When the situation calls for it and the patient has an advanced test early in the process, they have measurably better outcomes … the radiologist needs to be more engaged, earlier in the process.

Cynthia Sherry, MD – Medical Director, the Radiology Leadership Institute

That sentiment correlates well with a survey that was announced this week by GE Healthcare* as a part of their MIND Initiative (Making an Impact on Neurological Disorders). That survey, which focused on diagnoses of Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease, was able to quantify significant advantages (financial and otherwise) to reducing delays in diagnosis.

The RLI has developed a comprehensive curriculum that is designed to equip radiologists for leadership in the evolving model for delivering healthcare in the US. Underlying all of that leadership development is that radiologists are being trained and equipped to have a voice – and that’s where social media begins to come into play.

For a function that’s traditionally perceived as being a part of the “back office,” a surprising number of radiologists have taken to social media as a mechanism to build those broader connections with referring physicians and patients. We’re tracking over 200 online radiologists through our MDigitalLIfe initiative (you can find a list of them, along with other important members of the radiology community, in this twitter list). One of the most active of them is Garry Choy, a staff radiologist at Mass General Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. He’s also the founder of a proprietary social network for radiologists called radRounds – that now has over 12,000 members from around the world.

But Garry is also a huge proponent of Twitter – and when I asked him why, his response was, “because it saves me so much time.” Yes, you read that right. Since most non-Twitter-users seem to think of it as a huge time-suck, I was a little surprised myself. So I asked him to elaborate.

“As a radiologist, it’s critically important for me to be connected to all of the latest advancements in process and technology as it relates to medicine. The people I follow on Twitter act as a human filter for the best information. It also allows me to access the top experts in the world, in real time, when I have a question.”

Garry Choy, MD – Mass General Hospital’s Division of Emergency Radiology and Teleradiology

I’m lucky enough to be spending the weekend with some incredibly inspiring radiologists this weekend at the annual meeting of the California Radiological Society – where I’ll be making a presentation with Dr. James Chen on Radiology and Social Media on Sunday the 22nd at 12:00 PDT. We’ll be sharing some data on how Radiologists are using social media for the very first time, which is always exciting. And I’ll also be doing 1×1 “Online Activation” coaching with a couple of dozen radiologists who are ready to take that next step into the future. You can follow all the action through the hashtag #CalRad13.

There’s much more to come as radiologists embrace the future of their field – and as online communication looms large in that process, we’ll all be able to follow along. Enjoy the ride!

*GE Healthcare is a client of WCG.

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.

#MDigitalLife is a WCG program designed to learn from and to showcase physicians who are blazing new trails in the digital world – changing the way that medicine is practiced and better health is realized.  You can find previous posts here.

“The sum-total of medical knowledge is now so great and wide-spreading that it would be futile for one man to … assume that he has, even a good working knowledge of any large part of the world. The very necessities of the case are driving practitioners into cooperation.  The best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered, and in order that that the sick may have the benefit of advancing knowledge, union of forces is necessary.”

– William J. Mayo, MD – Commencement Address at Chicago’s Rush Medical College in 1910 (as Quoted in Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care; ed. Lee Aase)

“What’s old is new again.”  As the American healthcare system continues to evolve, William Mayo’s words are more true than ever … Healthcare is a team sport – and the contiuum of care for patients is critical.  The ability to provide that kind of holistic care is at the center of David Pate’s vision for the future of St. Luke’s Health System.

There’s no question that Dr. Pate is a communicator.  After taking the reins as St. Luke’s Health System chief executive officer in 2009, he started doing a series of roadshows for employees, physicians and St. Luke’s various boards (SLHS comprises seven hospitals and more than 100 clinics across Idaho and eastern Oregon). To meet personally with all of the groups in the system took two weeks of his exclusive time and attention – but even then, he knew that he was only reaching 10% of his audience at best.  Additionally, he saw that the health system was changing so rapidly that no number of roadshows or quarterly and annual reports would be able to keep up in a meaningful way.  He saw the need to do something different.

“When it comes to social media, I want to be clear that I don’t have all the answers. I acknowledge my mistakes and learn from them. But we believe strongly in our mission, and want to share it with everyone in our community.  There is simply no other way that I can reach so many people so quickly – social media has become a critical part of our communication strategy.”

David Pate, M.D.,J.D.

CEO, St. Luke’s Health System

Starting a blog is no small undertaking – especially for someone in as visible a position as Dr. Pate.  He’d heard stories about people who started blogging, but couldn’t keep it up for one reason or another.  He’d also seen business leaders who had arranged to have a “ghost-written” blog, but whose employees could see through the ruse from a mile away. So before jumping in with both feet, he wanted to make sure that he really understood both the commitment required as well as the mechanics for maintaining momentum over time. His communication team (who, by the way, are clearly critical to Dr. Pate’s process) told him that he needed to consider a few things:

  • He’d have to produce meaningful updates, and do so frequently enough to keep people’s attention.
  • The blog had to be in his voice. His staff could make suggestions and proofread, but there could be no question: Dr. Pate would be the author.
  • And the big question: Whether to make it public or private, so that only employees could read it. A public blog posed IT and other challenges that the system had not previously faced.

The decision was made to share the blog as broadly as possible, and Dr. Pate’s Prescription for Change was born.  He describes the blog’s purpose nicely on its “About Page:”

“I have been looking for more ways to reach our physicians and employees. I thought that the blog could be a way to reach people that I might otherwise miss through other communication venues.

Also, I have reviewed our employee survey results and am aware that employees want to know more about senior leadership’s vision and strategy. This is particularly important at a time when we are going through unprecedented change.

Finally, we are working to provide even greater transparency to the public. After all, the community owns us. While not everyone will agree with everything I write in this blog, I hope that everyone will appreciate this and other attempts we are making toward that end.”

Initially, Dr. Pate committed to publishing every two weeks. The volume of information he wanted to share with the St. Luke’s audience, however, quickly drove a switch to a weekly publishing schedule, and he’s maintained a pace that’s much closer to two posts per week, nearly eight per month. And there’s no question that he’s the author, though he acknowledges that he gets great inspiration and recommendations from his communications team, other SLHS employees, and members of the community. And, in keeping with Dr. Pate’s approach to communications and to live out the message of transparency he believes is critical to making meaningful change to the healthcare system, the blog is public – and has a growing national following.

One of the things that’s helped Dr. Pate to keep the blog moving is that it’s inextricably intertwined with the system’s core mission (its “Triple Aim): Better health, Better care, Lower costs.  His topics tend to gravitate toward a few key themes:

To the latter area, Dr. Pate found that people who write or post online tend to “take extreme positions and hammer them all the time.” He knew from his own experience that most people are smart enough to know that there’s more than one side to every issue – especially around a subject that’s as complex and controversial as healthcare.  As a result, Dr. Pate tries to present all positions, and really help people understand different perspectives on these issues.

“When you work at SLHS, people are going to ask you YOUR positions on healthcare issues.  As a physician, lawyer, and the leader of a health system, I believe that I have a unique perspective … and one that allows me to give – to the best of my ability – a non-biased perspective.  Then, I can introduce St. Lukes’ position and explain ‘why’ with some meaningful context.”

David Pate, M.D.,J.D.

CEO, St. Luke’s Health System

Over the last month, Dr. Pate and the St. Luke’s team have had an opportunity to show how impactful the blog can be.

Because Dr. Pate and the St. Luke’s board believe that the key to providing the best healthcare possible within their community means having the broadest meaningful “footprint,” they’ve been structuring to ensure that they can serve their patients across the continuum of care.  This has led to some fairly significant acquisition activity over the past few years.  In the course of acquiring a regional medical group (Saltzer Medical Group), their major competitor filed an injunction in an attempt to stop the process. St. Luke’s subsequently was featured in a New York Times piece concerning changes in healthcare delivery nationwide.  [A Hospital War Reflects a Bind for Doctors in the U.S.]

Dr. Pate says that he spent over 90 minutes with the NYT reporter, helping to paint a picture of how important it is for SLHS to be able to broaden its footprint in order to meet its “Triple Aim.”  But what happened instead is that the St. Luke’s story was used as a lead-in to argue against “big corporate healthcare.”  Though none of the examples cited later in the article were related to St. Luke’s, they were made to appear to be “guilty by association.”

The report scratched the surface of the challenges being faced by health systems; that much is clear from the volume and variety of comments the article generated when posted to The Times’ website. Normally in that kind of a situation, the CEO in question couldn’t do much more than fume and fret – with no outlet to share his side of the story.  But what happened in this instance is that Dr. Pate DOES have an outlet to share the whole story – with a “built-in audience” he’s spent the last year diligently growing.  And it’s also an outlet where that audience has grown accustomed to hearing Dr. Pate objectively discuss some of the most difficult issues in healthcare.  His response, ‘ … The far more interesting story is, What if?‘, is absolutely worth a read. As are the comments – which feature physicians, patients, employees and members of the community sharing in telling the St. Luke’s story.

At this point, you might still be feeling a little bit skeptical.  After all, we’ve seen “big healthcare” misbehaving on a pretty regular basis over the last several years, right?  Just because SLHS has a great PR spokesman in Dr. Pate doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s telling the whole truth, does it?  Well, maybe not.  We usually don’t have any way to tell – we just have to take the stories we’re served, and try to ascertain the truth as best we can.  But Dr. Pate’s blogging has done something else for us … it’s given us a history.  Its shown us some things about his character and the sincerity of the St. Luke’s mission – things that have nothing to do with the Saltzer Medical Group or the New York Times.

Take a look at some of that history:

“I have been at various positions on this at different points in my career.  I worked in a large, urban, county Level I Trauma Center when I was a resident in training, and I saw many people who came into the emergency room largely because they put themselves in situations that endangered their own health, such as drug overdoses, automobile accidents due to alcohol, the end stages of alcoholism, people shot while committing crime, people with sexually transmitted diseases who knowingly took significant risks, and the like.

When I was tired and overworked, there were times I wondered why the county should have to pay all the costs of people’s poor judgment, and why I should have to be up in the middle of the night taking care of them. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true.

I matured and gained life experiences. I got older and found that I didn’t take care of myself as I should have. I gained weight, and became obese, and have been fortunate not to have medical consequences. I had a family member with a drug addiction and realized it truly was a disease, rather than a character flaw. Visiting my family member in rehab, I met youths who were addicts, many of them with piercings and tattoos.

I am ashamed to say that previously I would have judged those young people negatively without even knowing them. When I really took the time to talk to them, I realized that many of them had gone through life experiences that I could not have imagined. They were incredibly smart, nice, and fun to be with, but damaged by life’s circumstances. They were overcoming incredible challenges just to sober up or get clean and to participate in their own recovery. I realized that my outlook had been poorly informed, naïve, and unfairly prejudicial.”

Dr. David Pate, excerpted from Looking at the Patient’s Part in Health – July, 2012

Or, try this one:

“Health care is a legal right for some people under certain circumstances, but it is not an across-the-board legal right for everyone. That is a matter of law.My personal morals tell me that some health care is a right, but not all health care. And ethically, I believe there are limits to the health care that people are entitled to. But in a way, all of this is the easy part. The hard part is how we pay for it for those who cannot do so, if it is indeed their right.

I realize that many will not agree with me, but I hope that this has at least added to the conversation. It is my earnest hope that the Triple Aim work we are doing here at St. Luke’s is going to succeed, so that there are fewer who are unable to exercise their rights to health care.”

Dr. David Pate, excerpted from Health Care: Right or Privilege – May, 2012

That history gives me a chance to know Dr. Pate in a way that I otherwise couldn’t have done without working side-by-side with him, or if he were a personal friend.  And I’m not afraid to say that a person who can express – candidly, objectively and compassionately – those kind of opinions, beliefs and doubts is more likely to be doing so again in the Saltzer Medical Group case.  And the publicly expressed opinions of his audience would indicate that they feel the same way – and by the way, the injuntion was subsequently denied.

Did you notice, too, that every comment expressed on the blog gets a personal response from Dr. Pate?

“Not every comment requires a reply – but I do it in any case.  It takes time and effort for people to comment, and I want them to know that if they invest that time, I’m going to give them a personal response.”

David Pate, M.D.,J.D.

CEO, St. Luke’s Health System

That kind of commitment to putting his money (and in this case, his time and attention) where his mouth is speaks volumes – and it speaks well for the people served by St. Luke’s.

Keeping up with Dr. Pate:

Dr. Pate’s Prescription for Change blog

@DrPateStLukes on Twitter

Dr. David Pate on LinkedIn

St. Luke’s Health System on Facebook

St. Luke’s Health System on YouTube

Year end is always a great time to look back and assess what worked and what didn’t from a business perspective. This includes marketing campaigns, content efforts, social media engagement, sales activities, etc. In particular, reviewing which posts on your corporate or personal blog resonated can be a helpful way to better understand your customers’ and prospects’ interests. Not only is it a good reminder to focus on what works (you’ll notice that four of the top ten blog posts are list based), it’s also an excellent time to catch up on content that we may have missed in the hustle and bustle of our busy day to day lives.

In conjunction with this post, I put together a similar post calling out our top 10 social media posts of 2012. Because our roots (and many of our customers) sit in the health care/pharma space, I thought that it was only right to compile a list of the top 10 health care/MDigital life blog posts as well. And to be clear, what my colleague, Greg Matthews, has done with his MDigital Life project has been nothing short of amazing (just read a few of his posts to get a better sense of the project). In addition to Greg, we are also lucky enough to have former Washington Post blogger and current head of media outreach, Brian Reid, contributing to our blog. You’ll notice that Greg and Brian pretty much dominate our top 10 list and that’s among a group of several other very capable bloggers.

Onto the top 10:

  • Call for Submissions: WCG Hosts HealthCare Social Media Review #3 Next Week by Greg Matthews (14,887 views | 75 Retweets) – Greg’s formal call for submissions on behalf of the Health Care Social Media Review (HCSMR) awards. Goal is for people to nominate physicians using social media in an innovative way. Apparently this struck a nerve!
  • HealthCare SocialMedia Review #3: The Digital Doctors Edition by Greg Matthews (12,884 views | 77 Retweets) – Greg’s 3rd edition of the Healthcare Social Media Review — a wrap up of the work submitted on the subject of “Innovative Uses of Social Media By and For Physicians.”
  • 14 Ways Pinterest Can Improve Health and Medicine by Brian Reid (5,660 | 113 Retweets) – What do you know? Social media and health and medicine really can work together. Brian Reid goes into great detail about photo sharing site, Pinterest’s role in this post.
  • #JPM12: 4 Charts Showing J.P. Morgan’s Twitter Impact by Brian Reid (4,267 views | 85 Retweets) – Brian talks about the growth of the use at Twitter (and its impact) at the 8,000 person health care/PR conference put on by J.P. Morgan every year in San Francisco.
  • Remembering the WSJ Health Blog, and What It Can Teach Us by Brian Reid (3,992 views | 82 Retweets) – Brian shares three lessons learned about why journalism is difficult and lessons learned from the death of the WSJ’s health blog.
  • Kent Bottles, MD – The MDigitalLife Interview by Greg Matthews (3,843 views | 61 Retweets) – An interview with Dr. Kent Bottles, a Senior Fellow at The Thomas Jefferson University School of Population Health in Philadelphia (among many other things). During the interview, Greg talks to Dr. Bottles about his use of social media.
  • John La Puma, MD – the MDigitalLife Interview by Greg Matthews (3,269 views | 20 Retweets) – An interview with Dr. John La Puma, an MD focused on internal medicine. During the interview, Greg talks to John about his use of social media and the influence of his dad who wrote ad copy for a living.
  • Dr. Bryan Vartabedian – The MDigitalLife Interview by Greg Matthews (3,220 views | 46 Retweets) – Greg interviews Dr. Vartabedian, a pediatric gastroenterologist who studied at the University of Massachusetts. Over the last three years become one of the leading thinkers on the the role of social media in medicine.
  • The FDA and Social Media: What the Headlines Got Wrong by Brian Reid (3,116 view | 47 Retweets) – Brian’s gentle criticism of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement back in January providing guidance on how companies may respond to inquiries about off-label use of marketing drugs and devices. Unfortunately, the announcement was more of a non-announcement.
  • Dr. Howard Luks – the MDigitalLife Interview by Greg Matthews (2,686 views | 37 Retweets) – Greg’s interview with Dr. Howard Luks and how he is using video to better communicate with his patients.

The themes that are emerging are a) interviews with doctors using social media are of interest b) the impact of social media on health care is also resonating with anyone in the health care space. Is there a post on the WCG blog that you really liked this year that’s not on the list above? If so, feel free to include in the comments below.