Technophobes, get ready for the future of healthcare

Meet RoNA (Robotic Nursing Assistant). She’s only one of the hundreds of new, connected technology developments aimed to change patient and provider experiences in healthcare. Designed to lift patients, RoNA reduces injury to nurses and frees them up for other aspects of care. RoNA is only one of the fabulous new technologies I’m learning about over the next few days at the Partners HealthCare Connected Health Symposium.

We’re talking about behavior change – ways to engage patients in their own care – and physician behavior change management – how to get health providers to deliver care differently. Proactively.

We’re talking about crowd-sourcing measurements, so that scientists can predict when you need to get extra rest to avoid a virus, to tell you to stop and call 911 because you’re about to have a heart attack, to forecast the next super-virus and help providers to prepare for crises and emergencies.

New medicine is inherently social. It’s about using our connected devices to monitor our health, and integrating that data into care modules automatically.

As a health communication professional, the education and behavior change possibilities are incredibly exciting as healthcare moves more to improving outcomes, reducing readmissions, and finding ways to measure and integrate quality-of-life data in our care.


I’m breaking up with my iPhone (or at least making it sleep on the couch)

Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein

I feel a bit like Runny Babbit this morning.  I’ve had a bit of insomnia for several nights now – mostly due to the kids’ transition back to school, a sick puppy, and the stress of family life.  I’ve broken my own rule…  I have been checking my email, Facebook, sometimes even Twitter, multiple times each night.

I keep my phone at the bedside because it’s a reliable alarm clock – regardless of potential power outages, my phone has consistently sung me awake for years.  I put it on airplane mode because I find that do not disturb doesn’t work in all cases, and I don’t want the beeping or buzzing interfering with the little bit of sleep I get.  When I started freelancing for a client in a different time zone, my sleep habits changed.  Or were ruined.  You’d think having to type in a password, then turn the airplane mode off would be enough to make me stop to consider the possible consequences to my health.  I’m now checking email around midnight and at 3am fairly consistently.  This morning, I was unable to fall back to sleep, and actually ended up getting up to start my day.  NOT GOOD!

According to a news release today, I am not alone.  It seems that many of us struggle with the feeling of being always-on.  We have become so attached to these mobile devices that we don’t feel whole without them.  Image from

Image from

I am NOT in this age group and my smartphone is not this snuggly!  After so many lost hours of sleep this week, I have the sunken, black eyes of a zombie and can hardly speak in complete sentences.  And so, I’m ousting my smartphone from the bedroom.  I’ll buy a digital alarm clock with back-up batteries and will not look back.  Turns out, there are things that can actually wait until morning, but sleep is rarely one of them!  Socialmediaphobe needs a nap…

Facebook: Don’t Mess with My Downton (or Take a Deep Breath, a Sip of Scotch, and Review Your Privacy Settings)

Confession: I read past the spoiler warning every time.  So, when I signed onto Facebook Monday morning and was greeted by friends who’d seen Downton Abbey the night before and were shocked and saddened by the episode, I couldn’t help but do a bit of research.  My Facebook friends were kind and did not divulge the source of their grief – but I knew something big had happened and couldn’t wait until the full British version arrived (we do DVDs, not DVR) to see it.Screen shot 2013-01-30 at 12.21.52 PM

The Internet is so easily searchable that in 20 seconds or less I’d found out what all the fuss was about, felt my own dismay, anger, and grief, AND couldn’t share it with those in my household!  For the second time in a month, I wished Facebook didn’t exist (way to blame the source smphobe!).  It made me want to organize my Facebook friends into “people who watch Downton” and “people who could care less about a subtle, British, dialogue-driven series”.  With the U.S. launch of Facebook’s new graph search, finding this information should be easy.  With graph search, Facebook indexes data from personal profiles and status updates (i.e., places, photos, people, Likes, etc.) to make it searchable.

Many in the blogging and digital community are up in arms about the potential privacy risks.  I don’t see much room for debate here.  Facebook programmers are trying to find ways to improve their product, and certainly needed to improve their search function.  It’s not Facebook’s problem that your kid tried to hock black market pantry items to his friends or that your daughter has a mind of her own, fell in love with the help and ran away to Ireland to marry. Those are personal problems until one makes the choice to share on Facebook.  It’s our responsibility to check our privacy settings.  Facebook graph search will only index information set for the “public”, so now is the perfect time to review your privacy settings and talk to your kids (PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE) about how future employers will query Facebook to vet job applicants.  If you wouldn’t write it on a billboard or wear it on your t-shirt, don’t put it on Facebook!  What I’d really like from Facebook (or iOS) is some sort of intoxication alert that won’t allow publishing on Facebook or sending Tweets that you may regret in the morning.

I’m on the waiting list to try the Facebook graph search beta. If I had it today I’d search for friends in my city who like Downton Abbey and invite them over this weekend for a Downton-style feast (and marathon, as the DVDs are scheduled to arrive Saturday!).

Social Media: Megaphone or Gathering Place?

With the plethora of divisive political social media use over the last year or so, Facebook has become a place we sometimes dread, a place where the beliefs of our acquaintances are stuffed down our throats, often leaving us in an unfortunately uncomfortable place of limbo – do we “unfriend” those who continue to spout hatred and intolerance in social media?  Do we leave comments suggesting other points of view?  Are these people really seeking engagement or simply a megaphone for their values?  If social media is the great gathering place of the 21st century, where do people go for inspiration, for encouragement, for a sense of community?  I follow RunUMother for inspiration and challenge:

Source: RunUMother

Source: RunUMother

I feel supported by my own caring community of friends on Facebook – those around me (some of whom have only just now joined Facebook) and those friends who use social media to support and interact from afar.  Even the pope has a Twitter feed!  In yesterday’s edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, columnist Regina Brett pontificated on the Pope’s new Twitter feed; her 12/9/12 column is well worth the read.

Many religious leaders are using social media to get their messages out.  The Dalai Lama has more than 4.5 million “likes” on his Facebook page.

Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 5.37.07 AM


The page is frequently updated with photos and messages:Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 5.36.47 AM


The United Church of Christ posts daily advent devotionals on their Facebook page: Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 5.42.07 AM


What motivates your tweet and status updates?

Having Grown Weary of Replacing Ink Cartridges, Socialmediaphobe Buys an iPad

For years I said I’d never do it. I love the smell of books – the way the coarse, yellowing paper feels in my fingers as I turn the page.  I love the sound of books – the opening and shutting of them.  I write in my books, using them like a diary to record my feelings and thoughts as I read.  I like to pull those dusty books off the shelf from time to time, to flip through the pages and remind myself where I was when I read it, what I was thinking, who I was with.  I underline and highlight – not just my textbooks, but the really well written parts of novels that just jump off the page at  me.  Going back and underlining what I read is part of my learning process: the highlighter, a gluestick for my memory collage.

And yet. I’m taking all my courses online, printing hundreds of pages of research articles each month, and there’s little more frustrating than replacing the ink cartridge twice in one day, or running out of paper with two pages of an article left to print.  There’s no romance to PDFs of research studies.  I don’t cuddle up with my spouse, with a glass of wine and a good journal article by the fire (I still need printed books of poems or novels to complete this scene).  When I went to reorder ink cartridges for the second time this semester, I realized it was time for an eReader (always a late adopter).  The iPad’s been great for studying. It’s fairly intuitive and when I run into trouble or become frustrated, I just ask my kids for help.

In other news: I’ve been working with Prezi, experimenting with a new, multi-media approach to a resume (those in the know call these Prezumes).  It’s fairly easy to use, and I like that it’s interactive and non-linear (much like my career path).  Check mine out and consider making one for yourself at

Some presume tips:

  • Your name should be prominent.
  • Make the path from one slide to the next easy to follow, without a lot of jumping around (your future employer will not be able to hire you if she got so dizzy from viewing your prezi that she passed out).
  • This is a chance for people to get to know your journey in a different, potentially more memorable way.  Don’t just reiterate the things on your standard, formal resume.  Be creative.  Be yourself. Include pictures and items from your portfolio.  Let people see who you are and what you do rather than just read it.
  • This is an opportunity to fill in any blanks left on your resume from periods of unemployment, staying home with the kids, caring for a sick relative, etc.
  • Be sure to include your contact information (deleted from my last slide for the purposes of this blog), and to embed your formal resume as well (some employers still prefer the old black and white versions).

Social Media Math: A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words x 100 Likes/Shares

It’s been a horrible technology day for me.  Spent 1.5 hours trying to configure my new work laptop to be on my wireless network.  I hate feeling like a complete dunce when talking to IT folk…  What’s the difference between WAP and WAP2 really?  The process required two diet cokes and a large slice of leftover pizza (it’s only 10:30am) just to keep me sane.  While I was booting, rebooting and waiting for support to get back to me, I was writing for this blog.  Somehow I managed to lose my work too.  First rule of thumb for this technophobe, always learned the hard way: SAVE YOUR WORK!

It’s W-week (as in wedding!) here… The big day is a few sleeps away and things are very, very busy, exhausting, stressful, wonderful, beautiful, awesome…  I was going to take the week off from blogging, but then, noticed a few people using social media to thank their firefighters and police officers on the anniversary of September 11, 2001, and was moved by it.

NYPD Facebook cover - 9/11/12

NYPD Facebook cover – 9/11/12

When was the last time you sent a thank you letter?  A genuine, personal letter thanking someone you’ve met for helping  you, for volunteering for your organization, for buying lemonade from your kid on the tree lawn, for taking good care of your mom when you couldn’t be there?    Thanking people using social media platforms allows you to be creative, public and personal, to encourage interaction, increase engagement and loyalty, and to create original, searchable content.

After Sally Ride’s death, singer songwriter Anne E. DeChant created a tribute video featuring her song Girls and Airplanes. DeChant’s video is an excellent example of a way to both honor and recognize someone who has touched your life AND create meaningful, searchable content, which further optimizes your organization for search.

So you’re not a lovely and talented singer songwriter?  No worries! Thanking one of your volunteers, or someone who’s done something kind for you on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, or a blog is easy, and it means giving “public” recognition for their dedication.  Your message will be seen not only by the recipient, but all of their friends.   Sometimes, thanking is as simple as “liking” them back or acknowledging their comments as DeChant does here:

Anne E DeChant thanks fans

With social media, and a little imagination, the possibilities are endless and potentially quite moving.  A video of an elementary school janitor cleaning the floors dutifully and interacting with the children; a classroom full of second graders looking eagerly at their teacher with hands raised; a small child holding a tray in the lunch service line – these are the kinds of scenes that would move people to like, share or forward a message, giving a simple “thank you” to the teachers and staff of your local elementary school a new, global reach.  It’s the ability to share these human stories that makes social media exciting.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Use photos and videos.
  • Use a platform like Animoto to make a video out of photographs you upload, and set it to music.

    Personal thank yous on Facebook

    Personal thank yous on Facebook

  • Don’t just say thank you – tell your readers who this person is, what makes them special, how they help you or impact the lives of others.  Keep it personal and meaningful.
  • Design a badge and give it as an award, encouraging the recipient to post it on his/her Facebook wall and/or blog.
  • Retweeet regularly.
  • “Like” them back, and “likes” are even more meaningful when they are accompanied by comments.
  • Feature volunteers and the work they do on your own wall (be sure to tag them by name):
Volunteer featured on Facebook Page

Volunteer featured on Facebook Page

  • Write a feature story about them, or allow them to share their own story in their own words like this Diet Coke love story:
    Diet Coke love story

    Diet Coke is the netcar of the gods… Making this a match made in heaven (and, an excellent way to use social media to engage followers AND build a brand).

    For other great ideas, check out this blog.

    A thank you post isn’t complete without acknowledging those of you who like and share this blog regularly.  Thanks so much for your patience as I learn along with you!  Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions, suggest topics, etc.

    This post is dedicated to all the fantastic friends who’ve listened to the planning rants, run the errands, and are otherwise helping me to survive W-week:  Nancy, Keith, Adam, Carolyn, Marj, Sheryl, Joe, Michelle, and of course, Deb.