Skip to content

Next #hcsmca chat

Wed. April 22, 2015 at 1pm ET (2pm AT, noon CT, 11am MT, 10am PT)
hcsmca = Health Care Social Media Canada more info >>

Discovering & welcoming #hcsmca lurkers

April 21, 2015

It makes me proud when people say, “You’re Colleen Young. I know you. You’re the one who runs the #hcsmca chat.” Well, actually they rarely manage to say h-c-s-m-c-a because it is quite a tongue twister. Most of us have seldom said it out loud. But I bet you can type it really quickly.

During these conversations, I discover that #hcsmca chats are often used for social media training at health organizations or that the #hcsmca blog and chat transcripts are people’s weekly reading material. I also find out that these people remain “lurkers”.

“In Internet culture, a lurker is typically a member of an online community who observes, but does not actively participate.” – Wikipedia

Lurkers are bonafide members of an online community, and as the examples above demonstrate, they often serve as ambassadors to the community.

scrolling on a smart phone

Photo credit: uditha wickramanayaka (Flickr)

Did you know there’s a Twitter chat devoted to the topic of lurkers? #Lurkerchat, founded by 2 fellow Canadians @boydjane @NickKellet, happens on Tuesdays at 10am Pacific time. Read these chat summaries #LurkerChat Learnings and 7 Learnings About Lurkers and let’s use this week’s #hcsmca to build on these learnings.

On Wednesday, April 22 at 1pm ET ((time zone converter) we’ll talk about lurkers in general, discover #hcsmca lurkers and and recent de-lurkers. Above all, let’s say hello and welcome them.

  • T1: What is a lurker? What are the benefits of lurking?
  • T2: When and how can lurkers be encouraged to participate and why?
  • T3a: Who are our #hcsmca lurkers?
  • T3b: When & where have you met an #hcsmca lurker?

Image via Flickr CC.

Better Knowledge, Better Health? Making Research Relevant, Accessible, and Prioritized to Patient Needs.

April 8, 2015

This week #hcsmca will be hosted by long-time community member, Marie Ennis-O’Connor (@JBBC). Join her at April 15, 2015 at 1pm ET (time zone converter).

By Marie Ennis-O’Connor (@JBBC)

headshot of Marie Ennis-O'Connor

Marie Ennis-O’Connor

With a personal history of breast cancer at age 34, and close to a decade spent as a patient advocate, I still hesitate when asked to answer the question “should I get a mammogram?” It’s a question I still can’t answer definitively – and I’m not alone. Breast cancer screening is a controversial subject – particularly in the case of younger women.

A Canadian study published in the British Medical Journal in January 2014 concluded that annual mammography in women aged 40 to 59 does not reduce mortality from breast cancer and more than 1 in 5 breast cancers diagnosed by a screening mammogram represented an over diagnosis. A month after publication, the American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging issued the following statement:

The recent breast cancer screening article (Miller et al.) published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) is an incredibly misleading analysis based on the deeply flawed and widely discredited Canadian National Breast Screening Study (CNBSS). The results of this BMJ study, and others resulting from the CNBSS trial, should not be used to create breast cancer screening policy as this would place a great many women at increased risk of dying unnecessarily from breast cancer.

Both the BMJ publication and the American College of Radiology statement are freely available on the Internet, but how do women know which one to rely on when it comes to making a decision about breast health? In an age of digitized health information and the rise of the proactive patient, we still need context and expertise to interpret the research. Shared decision-making only works if both parties have access to the right information and can interpret it. If we are unable to find relevant studies and evaluate them in the context of other scientific evidence, we cannot make the best possible decisions. Instead of more information (which may only lead to information overload), we need more accessible, understandable and credible information on which to base our decision-making.

Even when researchers address questions of importance to patients and clinicians, they often fail to provide answers that are useful in practice.  The challenge lies in making the vast amounts of evidence generated through research credible and useful for informing decisions about health. One way in which to do this is through systematic review – a critical assessment and evaluation of all research studies that address a particular clinical issue. Systematic reviews are regarded as the best form of medical evidence on which to base health decisions.

Venn diagram of Evidence based medicine

Cochrane, a global independent network of researchers, professionals, patients, and carers, makes systematic reviews available through its library. There are over 31,000 people in 120 countries involved in production of over 5200 Cochrane reviews. Cochrane researchers use transparent and reproducible research methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and healthcare decisions made.

On April 15, 2015 at 1pm ET (time zone converter) the #hcsmca community will explore how to share health evidence in ways that are accessible, meaningful and prioritized to patient needs.

  • T1 Are you aware of Cochrane (or similar) systematic reviews? How useful/relevant are they to you?
  • T2a How might researchers design protocols to ensure that outcomes are prioritized to patient needs?
  • T2b Does social media have a role to play in this?
  • T3 How might we use social media to communicate and disseminate research so that findings are more accessible, timely, and meaningful for the public?
  • T4 How do we ensure that people know why and how evidence should be used to inform their health decision making?

Seniors care and digital health

April 2, 2015

Join the Canadian Medical Association (@CMA_Docs) as it hosts its very first tweetchat at #hcsmca on the topic of seniors care, digital health and social media on April 8, 2015 at 1pm ET (time zone converter).

By Pat Rich (@cmaer) and Dominique Jolicoeur, Canadian Medical Association 

headshot Pat Rich

Pat Rich

headshot Dominique Jolicoeur

Dominique Jolicoeur

Seniors care, digital health and social media: On the surface the fit would seem to be natural and of huge potential benefit for patients and the Canadian health care system.

Many older Canadians have multiple chronic diseases and low mobility both of which could benefit enormously from telehealth, mobile technology and other supports that allow remote access to care and services.

In addition, many seniors have lost a partner and/or live alone and are prone to the negative impacts on mental and physical health that come from social isolation. If social media and online communities have one proven strength it is the ability to bridge this isolation and allow people to find communities of support.

But are our parents and other older citizens willing and able to embrace these new technologies to help maintain and improve their health?

We all have stories of relatives who have learned how to use the Internet, Facebook or Twitter at an advanced age (my 92-year-old mother is an example) to seek out and gather information or communicate. But are these individuals the norm or just outliers?  Studies indicate it is younger people who are more willing to adopt and use more technologies. This may be even more true with respect to a generation that has different views on privacy and sharing sensitive health information.

Given the potential crisis facing the care of seniors in Canada is surely very important to seek out innovative approaches to helping provide them with better care.

As Canadian Medical Association (CMA) President Dr. Chris Simpson (@Dr_ChrisSimpson) says:

“Canada’s seniors are not getting the health care they deserve — not even close.  Our system was created over half a century ago to meet the needs of a much younger population and we have not adapted to meet the growing number of aging Canadians.”

The CMA has made development of a national seniors plan (#SeniorsPlan) a priority for its advocacy activities and has just launched a website in conjunction with other associations to support this work (

Join the CMA as it hosts its very first tweetchat at #hcsmca on the topic of seniors care, digital health and social media. Using the CMA Twitter account @CMA_Docs, Dominique Jolicoeur will moderate the #hcsmca chat assisted by @cmaer.

Topics for #hcsmca April 8, 2015 at 1pm ET (time zone converter).

  • T1 Can seniors benefit from digital health and social media?
  • T2 Do you have examples of innovative digital or social media projects aimed specifically at older patients?
  • T3 What are the barriers to involving seniors more on social media to help them improve their health and how can these barriers be overcome.

If you are unable to participate in the chat and/or wish to share your comments in advance please do so.

Soins aux aînés et santé numérique

April 2, 2015

Joignez-vous à l’Association médicale canadienne (@CMA_Docs) alors qu’elle tient son tout premier clavardage sur Twitter avec #hcsmca le 8 avril 2015 à 13 h (heure de l’Est) sur la question des soins aux aînés, de la santé numérique et des médias sociaux.

Par Pat Rich (@cmaer) et Dominique Jolicoeur, Association médicale canadienne 

headshot Pat Rich

Pat Rich

headshot Dominique Jolicoeur

Dominique Jolicoeur

Soins aux aînés, santé numérique et médias sociaux : en apparence, l’accord semble être naturel et présenter un immense bénéfice potentiel pour les patients et le système de santé du Canada.

De nombreux Canadiens âgés souffrent de maladies chroniques multiples et d’une mobilité réduite, et pourraient bénéficier considérablement de la télésanté, de la technologie mobile et d’autres supports permettant un accès à distance aux soins et aux services.

En outre, de nombreux aînés ont perdu leur partenaire ou vivent seuls et sont sujets aux effets négatifs de l’isolement social sur leur santé mentale et physique. L’un des points forts démontrés des médias sociaux et des communautés en ligne est leur capacité de remédier à cet isolement et de permettre aux gens de trouver des réseaux de soutien.

Mais est-ce que nos parents et les autres citoyens âgés peuvent et veulent adopter ces nouvelles technologies dans le but de maintenir et d’améliorer leur état de santé?

Nous connaissons tous des proches qui ont appris à utiliser Internet, Facebook ou Twitter à un âge avancé (ma mère, qui a 92 ans, est un exemple) pour trouver de l’information ou communiquer. Ces personnes sont-elles la norme ou l’exception? Les études démontrent que les jeunes sont plus enclins à adopter et à utiliser un plus grand nombre de technologies. Cela pourrait être encore plus vrai avec une génération qui a un point de vue différent de la protection de la vie privée et du partage de renseignements sensibles sur la santé.

Compte tenu de la crise qui menace les soins aux aînés au Canada, il ne fait aucun doute qu’il est très important de chercher des approches novatrices pour aider à fournir de meilleurs soins à cette population.

« Au Canada, les aînés ne reçoivent pas les soins de santé qu’ils méritent — et de loin », a dit le président de l’AMC, Chris Simpson (@Dr_ChrisSimpson). « Notre système a été créé voilà plus d’un demi-siècle pour répondre aux besoins d’une population beaucoup plus jeune, et nous ne nous sommes pas adaptés pour répondre aux besoins d’une population de plus en plus nombreuse de Canadiens vieillissants. »

L’AMC fait de l’élaboration d’un plan national sur les aînés (#SoinsAuxAînés) une priorité de ses activités de représentation, et vient de lancer un site web, en partenariat avec d’autres associations, pour soutenir ces activités (

Joignez-vous à l’AMC alors qu’elle tient son tout premier clavardage sur Twitter avec #hcsmca sur la question des soins aux aînés, de la santé numérique et des médias sociaux. Avec le compte Twitter @CMA_Docs de l’AMC, Dominique Jolicoeur animera le clavardage, avec l’aide de @cmaer.

Sujets du clavardage #hcsmca du 8 avril 2015 à 13 h (heure de l’Est) (convertisseur de fuseaux horaires).

  • Sujet 1 : Les aînés peuvent-ils bénéficier de la cybersanté et des médias sociaux?
  • Sujet 2 : Avez-vous des exemples de projets innovateurs, liés au numérique ou aux médias sociaux, visant expressément les patients âgés?
  • Sujet 3 : Quels sont les obstacles à l’utilisation accrue des médias sociaux par les aînés pour améliorer leur santé et comment pourrait-on aplanir ces obstacles?

Si vous ne pouvez pas participer au clavardage ou que vous souhaitez soumettre vos commentaires d’avance, n’hésitez pas à le faire.

Innovation: The Prescription for Healthcare

March 26, 2015

By Sarah Downey, Chief Executive Officer (@SarahEDowney1) of Toronto East General Hospital (@EastGeneral)

How do ideas in healthcare take shape? How does one idea become a best practice? How do ideas stick?  How do we as a system make healthcare better for patients? How do we learn from mistakes?

#hcsmca April1 chatIn the spirit of collaboration and partnership, on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, Sarah Downey (@SarahEDowney1), CEO of Toronto East General Hospital, will moderate an #hcsmca tweet chat with CEOs and other executive team members from the Joint Centres for Transformative Healthcare Innovation on promoting innovation in healthcare. In its second year, the Joint Centres is a partnership between six large community hospitals with a goal of sharing innovations focused on improving quality and value in healthcare. The six partner hospitals and CEOs that will be participating in #hcsmca include:

During this hour we will discuss how ideas take form, how we can attempt to learn from failure and the importance of sharing of best practices between organizations. Please join us as we discuss the importance of creating a culture of innovation, one where not only best practices are celebrated, but also failures are recognized and learned from. All welcome.

Topics for #hcsmca April 1, 2015 at 1pm ET (time zone converter).

How is Innovation Born? The Creative Process of Innovation

  • T1a: In what areas of healthcare would you like to see more innovation happen?
  • T1b: How can we make innovation a part of our daily way of thinking?
  • T1c: Does social media have a role in helping organizations and HCPs be more innovative? How?

Learning from Mistakes: Creating a Culture Where It’s Okay to Fail

  • T2a: What does a culture of failure look like to you?
  • T2b: When should we treat failures in healthcare as opportunities for learning instead of performance management?
  • T2c: Should healthcare organizations be more public about their failures through social media? What are the implications?

The Importance of Sharing Ideas between Organizations

  • T3a: What is better for healthcare: Open sharing of ideas between organizations or developing ideas behind closed doors? Why?
  • T3b: Imagine a world where all providers & patients share ideas via social media. What would this look like?
  • T3c: What great work is being done in your organization that you wish could be spread to others in healthcare?

The Quantified Self and Your Health

March 17, 2015

By Alice Peter, Director, Population Health & Prevention Unit, Cancer Care Ontario (@CancerCare_ON)

headshot Alice Peter

Alice Peter

I’ve recently become interested in a movement known as the Quantified Self, which inspires self-knowledge through self-tracking with technology. There are many digital tools that can help us track our physical activity and diet as well as monitor and measure things like air quality, sleep, mood, logic and memory.

I know that health monitoring plays an important role in maintaining wellness and preventing disease,and I’m always interested in learning more about how we can leverage new tools to improve our personal awareness and overall health. Digital tools may be a great resource to help us better understand our health habits and provide us with the information we need to have meaningful conversations with our health care providers.

Many people don’t know that as many as half of all cancers could be prevented by eliminating known risk factors. We can take action to lower our risk of developing cancer and chronic disease by not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruit, and participating in regular physical activity.

quantified self logo

Colorectal cancer is one specific cancer with many ties to lifestyle factors. As March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, this seems like the perfect time to talk about healthy habits as a prevention method. At Cancer Care Ontario, we’re encouraging people to quit smoking, consume alcohol moderately if at all, to eat well, get moving and take action against colorectal cancer today. We’re also spreading awareness about our latest innovation: My CancerIQ.

My CancerIQ is an online tool that allows you to assess and better understand your risk of developing colorectal, breast, cervical and lung cancer. It includes a series of risk assessments that estimate your risk of cancer compared to other Ontarians like you. While the tool won’t tell you whether or not you will develop cancer, it can help you focus on specific changes you can make to lower your cancer risk and live a healthier life.

We hope you’ll join us on March 25, 2015 at 9 pm ET (time zone converter) to discuss the quantified self, self-tracking and using digital tools to track your health and take action against cancer and chronic disease.

Topics for this week’s chat include:

  • T1. Do you use digital tools to track your health?
  • T2. How do you use the data you collect to make healthy choices?
  • T3. How do you share the data you collect with your doctor? If you don’t, why not?

Medical Research, Recruitment & Social Media

March 16, 2015

By Parminder Basran (@Psbasran)

Parminder Basran

Parminder Basran

March 18 transcript

Whether your department head, daughter, or doctor – like it or not – social media is here. Sooner or later you will learn about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ (or whatever). Some of you beyond a certain vintage may lament over your pre-internet brain (to steal a phrase from Douglas Copeland). But if you’re involved in healthcare and play some role in research, you should take pulse on Social Media in the Medical Sciences.

While not early adopters, medical researchers in public and private institutions are becoming more engaged with the social media and its utility in medical research. And while quality peer-reviewed open access journals have provided a means of disseminating research, scientists still struggle with finding the right avenue, separating the need to diseminate research with the need for publishing in ‘high impact’ papers, and making their research more accessible to the public.

Social Media Tools for Research

Within the confines of the academic medical community, can social media be used as a tool for research? Over the last 5 years, there has been an explosion in the types of tools and software that can be used to connect researchers among and outside disciplines. And as much as I’d love to see lynx and traditional mailing lists continue, the fact is that that they have limitations. Can social media fill that void?

In addition to Twitter and Facebook, tools such as LinkedInResearchGateGoogleScholar, Mendeley, and a host of others can provide opportunities to share data, communicate through forums, and rate and comment on articles. Indeed, it brings forth an interesting question on how medical research can be judged. (For example, a recent #hcsmca discussion challenges the notion traditional publications methods with the question : Is Academic Research a Dead Man Walking?)

But while these tools may hold value, time is precious, particularly in the field of medical research. So there has to be some evidence of a significant benefit if choosing to invest in the exploration of social media tools, and that benefit must extend well beyond from those gained from traditional research methods. Social media aggregators and digests show some promise in this regard: such as public tools like Flipboard that can amass a variety of social media channels into a single graphical interface, to ones directed squarely for professional medical organization like Sosido, that can digest scientific information for healthcare professionals in a variety of invasive and non-invasive ways.

Social Media Tools for Outreach

There are some great examples how organizations are using social media for sharing medical research to the general public. But what about individual researchers? A recent PLOS article explored how biologists and physicists view ‘outreach’. In the United States, about 5% of academic researchers are involved in some type of outreach. And of those, there may be some evidence that those 5% are more successful researchers. Whether the two are correlative is interesting, but whether there a causal link is much more interesting. The metric of ‘success’ is certainly up for debate.
But again, time is precious: it is the biggest barrier for any medical researcher. Just this week, our centre had a few illnesses, rendering my plans to strap down finish up writing a few lingering papers impossible.

Is it worth the effort to explore and expand the use of social media tools for the medical researcher? Probably. So where can I get the biggest bang for my buck?

On March 18 at 10am PT (1pm ET) week’s #hcsmca chat we explore the relationships between social media, medical research, and the researcher.

Our first question explores the impact social media has, and continues to make, on medical research.

  • T1a: Generally, has social media positively –or negatively- impacted medical research?
  • T1b: Are there examples of how social media has positively/negatively impacted medical research?

Second, we ask how medical researchers are using social media.

  • T2a: How are medical researchers using social media for their research from discover, recruitment to dissemination?
  • T2b: Have you ever discovered clinical trials or been recruited for research participation via social media?

Third, we delve into the specific tools they might use in their social media.

  • T3a: What social media tools are most prevalent in medical research?
  • T3b: What social media tools are most prevalent in outreach?

This post was originally posted on Parminder Basran’s blog Medphyz and republished here with permission of the author.

Read the March 18 media medical research