We all know that social media has changed the way the world communicates about health – you needn’t look any farther than Anjelina Jolie introducing the world to the BRCA gene to see that. But what’s perhaps less well-understood is that what were once separate conversations – doctors to doctors; patients to patients; healthcare companies to nobody – have now converged incredibly. As you can see in the visual on the right, for example, doctors and patients talking about breast cancer mention each other exponentially more than they did only a few years ago.
And earlier this week our own Kayla Rodriguez showed how the conversation around a medical meeting – ASH – now had significant participation from patients, advocacy organizations and the media. That would have been tough to imagine five years ago!
The smarter healthcare companies have already started to adjust their strategies in recognition of the fact that you can’t talk to just doctors or just patients online anymore … you’re talking to multiple stakeholders anytime you turn up. That can be really scary … or it can be an incredible opportunity.
Every healthcare company has been talking about patient-centricity for years. But how much has that talk actually impacted the lives of real patients? How many companies really understand the patient’s experience and are effectively reaching them in a way that adds value for both parties?
Any healthcare companies that want to survive need to truly understand what makes their audiences tick … and that means all of their audiences. And more than that, they need to know how their different audiences (e.g., patients; physicians; payors) are connected to each other, and how to communicate to each in a way that is both understandable and value-added.
Not every healthcare leader is wired for that. Just as many of us “more mature” citizens were dragged into social media by our kids (or our new college hires – my first mentor was Naimul Huq, fresh out of his undergrad program at UNC), companies need help from people who are fluent in health ecosystem communications.
If you work in healthcare, there’s a good chance that you already know Dana. A few facts to jog your memory:
- She founded the granddaddy of all healthcare tweet chats – the Healthcare Social Media Chat (#hcsm) in 2009 and still leads it
- As a #PWD (person with diabetes for the uninitiated), Dana is one of the original ePatients and is in high demand as an author, speaker & expert as a result
- She and her (now) husband Scott Leibrand invented the Do It Yourself Artificial Pancreas System (#DIYPS) that has inspired thousands of patients to demand better solutions from healthcare companies. She then took it a step further, founding the #OpenAPS movement to make safe and effective basic Artificial Pancreas System technology more widely available (and sooner).
- She has spent the last several years in digital leadership positions at Swedish Hospital and Providence Health & Services in Seattle doing some of the best and most cutting-edge marketing in the industry
Impressive, right? But look at it through the eyes of the health ecosystem. She is a leading ePatient. She has worked directly with manufacturers to help them solve problems from the patient’s perspective. She’s done amazing work to enable healthcare professionals (check out this publication for providers on guiding patients to both information & engagement resources) & provider organizations to change the way they communicate with their public. In short, Dana is one of the rare people who is fluent in PATIENT, PROFESSIONAL, PROVIDER and MANUFACTURER comms – and after 7 years of #HCSM chats she knows an enormous percentage of the key players in the business.
MDigitalLife is all about helping our clients to effectively navigate the online health ecosystem. And Dana is one of the people who truly embodies that.
I am passionate about improving relationships and communications to ultimately simplify and improve the health care experience. There are so many relationships and intersections in health care, from the patient-provider relationship to the relationship between employees or patients and providers to health care systems and organizations.
As the MDigitalLife team has been vocal and passionate about mapping the online health ecosystem, they’ve built a series of solutions that enable individuals and organizations to create more effective, relevant communications – and ultimately are helping to improve the health care system and related experiences.
I’m excited to be joining this team at W2O Group to help further this work and our understanding of the evolution of topics, language, behavior & influence in the online health ecosystem.
Dana M. Lewis – Director, MDigitalLife
Greg Matthews is the Managing Director of MDigitalLife – Follow him on twitter here.