Emergence of Social Media in Health Care

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Over the last year or so, we’ve seen a rapid emergence of the use of social media like Facebook and Twitter. We’ve also seen it become an interesting communication tool for businesses and real people to share ideas and information. It feels as if we are only beginning to see the potential of these relatively new mediums.

Today, I sat across from Hospital CEO & Blogger Paul Levy (Running a Hospital) as he shared with an interested group of faculty “this thing called Twitter.” In addition to providing real time blog posts and tweets about the Forum, Paul is delivering a session on Wednesday on Using Social Media to Pursue Quality and Patient Safety. Sarah Fraser is also doing a mini course on Monday on Using Social Media to Improve Health: Techniques and Applications. Who would have guessed a year or two ago, these topics would be on the agenda?

In addition to scheduled sessions, IHI Forum participants are self organizing for informal “tweet ups” around topics like patient safety. For the first time, attendees can quickly network with people with like interests, from around the world, that they might not have ever met in year’s past. Fantastic!

I’m still testing and learning to use these tools, but am intrigued. When Paul finished his Twitter demo, one of the faculty asked him something along the lines of: “What’s the point?” He replied, “I’m not sure yet, but for now, it’s kind of fun.” I agree. What do you think? Where do you think this social journey will lead us?