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#hcsmca: The Last Waltz (or … Not Last Tango in Vancouver)

January 7, 2016

This post was originally published on Pat’s blog Days of Past Futures

By Pat Rich (@pat_health)

headshot Pat Rich

Pat Rich

The National #hcsmca Symposium to be held in Vancouver, Feb. 24 in conjunction with Quality Forum 2016 represents a watershed moment for Canada’ premier health care social media (hcsm) community.

Whether attending personally (and you should) or not, attention should be paid by anyone interested in how social media tools and platforms are being used in health care. Through #hcsmca, people are striving to change how health care is delivered and challenging many of the premises behind the traditional role of patients and providers in the health care system.

The symposium not only represents the first national manifestation of this virtual community “in the flesh” but also clearly marks the end of the beginning of Canada’s contribution to the national hcsm movement.

Colleen Young, the volunteer Founder of #hcsmca, and behind-the-scenes driving force for its weekly tweetchats and occasional meetups, recently announced her intent to transfer her energies to other projects.

Experience in other countries has shown that health care twitter communities that depend on one volunteer organizer eventually flounder and it can be argued that the same will be true in Canada.

But this contention is challenged by the very existence of the upcoming national symposium, with plans to produce substantive outcomes (more on that in my next blog post), organized by a dedicated team of volunteers with the support of the established Quality Forum conference it precedes.

Over its six-year history, #hcscma has seen participation by almost every thought leader in hcsm in Canada as well as many global leaders in the field. It has also introduced dozens of patients, researchers and providers to the potential benefits social media in health care.

While writing this blog post, the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) published an interview with Colleen detailing in her own words her thinking behind the initiation and evolution of #hcsmca.

A few quotes from that interview do more than I ever could to explain where Colleen believes #hcsmca has been and is going.

In the beginning, I just wanted to learn but as participation in the weekly chats grew exponentially … I could see how social media removed traditional barriers of communication in health care, how it was a valuable tool for bringing together people interested in improving the experience for patients as well as providers.”

As #hcsmca grew and matured, and social media became practically ubiquitous, hosting a community focused exclusively on social media no longer made sense. … With the diverse knowledge pool of its members, the community leverages social media and other digital collaborative tools in an open forum to share perspectives, best practices, new ideas and solutions.

Whether the National #hcsmca Symposium proves to just be the closing chapter to a grand experiment or – as Colleen and others intend – the initial phase of a new open approach to sharing ideas about improving the health care experience – remains to be seen.

Attend in person or comment through social media using the hashtag #hcsmca, and don’t miss your opportunity to be part of this event and evolution because that is what community is all about.


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