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Twitter tweet chats on the examining table: #hcsmeu

August 25, 2010

First up on the examining table is hcsmeu (Health Care Social Media Europe).

Back in August 2009 – the month that most of Europe vacations – hcsmeu co-founders Silja Chouquet and Andrew Spong held the first Twitter-driven event for the European healthcare community (healthcare professionals, educators, patients, heath content providers, health systems, and so on). Neither anticipated the incredible level of interest and enthusiasm that they encountered. And now, after a year of hosting hcsmeu tweet chats every Friday at 1 pm CET (noon UK time), the fledgling community has grown to become an influencing, thriving community whose Tweetreach seldom drops below 10,000, and has been known to be three times that number.

According to the hcsmeu wiki, “hcsmeu is chronicling, but also seeking to influence, the evolution of the health conversation on the social web in Europe and beyond. It seeks to democratize the health conversation between patients, healthcare professionals, the pharmaceutical industry and other key stakeholders. It does not ‘belong’ to any one of these constituencies.”

To find out more about hcsmeu’s goals and aspirations for year two, I interviewed Silja and Andrew.

SC/AS: Colleen, thank you for inviting us to mark the first anniversary of hcsmeu with you and the doc2doc community.

Q1: hcsmeu’s mission is to “drive forward the adoption of social media across Europe in order to improve the quality, access, value and effectiveness of healthcare delivery to patients.” After one year, how has hcsmeu been able to advance its mission?

SC/AS: From the point of view of quantitative outcomes, we suspect we’ve made no difference whatsoever during our initial year to these measures. In terms of the debate and discussion that the community has created on these subjects and the analyses of what constitutes success in terms of patient outcomes in this regard, we would like to think that we have made a modest contribution in terms of advancing the conversation.

If we manage to attain or at least move closer towards these goals in the fullness of time, our contribution will of course remain indirect. We are not planning on opening a branded provider network! However, if we can through our actions create a network of local chapters speaking to national interests, develop a pan-European knowledge hub sharing the very best of the health resources and information sources that the web has to offer, and continue to credential ourselves as advisors by informing providers and policy makers as to how to optimize patient outcomes through the effective use of the social web, we will think ourselves to have had some success.

Q2: Who are the healthcare stakeholders needed to contribute to a successful hcsmeu community? Which group is under-represented?

SC/AS: We are clear about the fact that in order for hcsmeu to credibly claim to be instrumental in democratizing the European health conversation, patients, carers, healthcare professionals, the industry, providers, and policy makers among others must ALL be represented and participate regularly.

Whilst everyone who has given of their time, enthusiasm and ideas has made a valuable contribution to the community during its first year, and we continue to be grateful for their ongoing commitment, we all agree that the industry, and particularly the third parties that serve it, is strongly represented.

We still have work to with all other stakeholders. hcsmeu is an inclusive community: it is important to us that everyone who has an interest in any aspect of healthcare in Europe has somewhere where their voice may be heard. You can be sure that we will all be lobbying hard within advocacy and not-for-profit groups over the coming months in order to make sure that we are as visible within these crucial constituencies as we would like to be. That said, if you review the hcsmeu archives, then yes, you will find that we have made a start.

Q3: Why should healthcare professionals get involved?

SC/AS: The first wave of participatory medicine is already breaking around us, and the suck back from each successive wave is only going to become stronger. Whilst the more progressive and self-reflexive exponents of medical practice are not only attuned to but also attempting to integrate themselves into the participatory medicine revolution, I don’t think it is unreasonable to say that the majority of healthcare professionals remain firmly entrenched within the dictated medicine model.

We think hcsmeu has a role to play in helping healthcare professionals come to terms with the impact that participatory medicine and the rise of the empowered patient is going to have upon their working lives, and to view it not as a threat to be overlooked and belittled, but as a unique opportunity to be acknowledged and embraced to the benefit of all the parties involved.

Q4: How can they get involved?

SC/AS: hcsmeu is driven by conversation and sharing. Conversations occur throughout the week, but our focal event takes place every Friday at 1pm CET. Search on the hashtag #hcsmeu to find what out what we are talking about, and include it in your tweets to participate. The sharing has until very recently taken the form of links to content we have found, and Gdocs we have worked on together. Our wiki also makes finding what you need to know about European healthcare and connecting with other hcsmeu members easier.

We believe social media can revolutionize healthcare by increasing patient-focus, improving access to healthcare services and gathering an unprecedented volume of high quality patient outcome data. It is our opinion that social media has the potential to improve the quality and delivery of care, and advance patient education and empowerment. hcsmeu is only a small drop into the huge and complex social media & healthcare pond. Yet, we hope that it will give healthcare professionals at the top of the social media adoption curve a forum and community to build bridges and spread social media to their work environments.

In time, we hope they will see the benefit in participating actively as well as observing the debate taking place.

hat do you think? Can social media and tweet chats like hcsmeu encourage and facilitate healthcare professionals’ acceptance of participatory medicine and the empowered patient movement?

This Twitter chat series also appears on doc2doc blogs.

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