Roche have done something rather unconventional this year by inviting non-health professionals to speak at their educators day prior to the Australian Diabetes Society and Australian Diabetes Educators Association Annual Scientific Meeting. This was how fellow Young Leader in Diabetes, Steph and I managed to find ourselves behind a lectern speaking about diabetes and social media to a bunch of diabetes nurse educators today.
Interestingly, the day opened with Dr George Margelis (@on Twitter) discussing the trend changes in eHealth and its impact on diabetes management. Dr Margelis challenged us (well me at least) to think of eHealth as a term of enabling or empowering patients to be more involved in their healthcare. There is so much information currently out there but only a trickle of it reaching health consumers. He argued that we are facing a generation who will less likely want to be told what to do. So rather than fighting against that, healthcare professionals should work with health consumers to help them better understand and interpret information they obtain from the web. I particularly enjoyed his analogy of a village raising a child and likening a village to an online space. Therefore, perhaps healthcare professionals need to reconsider the mode of education provided to patients in the future.
Enabling communication between healthcare professionals and patients seem to be a running theme throughout the day, with similar notions being echoed at Fran Brown and Professor Jane Speight’s (@JaneSpeight on Twitter) session on harnessing the value of self-monitoring blood glucose. When it came down to our discussion, we wanted to encourage healthcare professionals to use social media to build effective communication between and amongst themselves, but also with their patients. Some take home messages from our presentation included:
- Emphasis that social media is not just a fad. Ignoring it won’t make it disappear. On the contrary, being aware of such networks, forums and discussions are just as important.
- What a hashtag is. A hashtag (#) helps social media uses streamline their searches. Once you search a hashtag on various social media platforms, such as #ADSADEA2014, every post that has been tagged with that hashtag will show up. For example:
- Social media platforms serve various functions from personal to professional use. Community groups are more prevalent on personal platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. For example: the Diabetes Online Community.
- Peer support from the Diabetes Online Community serves as additional motivation for self-management but also boosts self-confidence. Particularly through gaining knowledge and having the power to make informed decisions around their diabetes.
- Participation is not compulsory, it’s okay to be a “lurker” too. Engage to a level you are comfortable with. Highly recommend checking out tweetchats such as #OzDOC on Tuesday nights, 8.30pm AEST. Tweetchats are moderated chats on twitter with questions revolving around a particular theme ranging from social to sharing experiences on diabetes related topics.
- Social media is fantastic for health promotion and raising awareness. Check out campaigns like #ShowMeYourPump. This is isn’t limited to diabetes though. In the spotlight now is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
- Engaging in social media helps healthcare professionals see more than just the clinical condition patients come into clinic with. It puts the human touch back into healthcare and is often a reminder that at the end of the day, people with diabetes are just human too. This works brilliantly both ways for health consumers to see their healthcare professional as people, not just the diabetes police.
- Always ensure that resources are trustworthy and reliable. Check out author’s credentials, currency of information, source of information and if the information being presented actually makes sense. Would you trust that resource as a healthcare professional? Check out this blog post by Riva Greenberg on a list of recommended diabetes blogs, websites and books.
- What goes on the internet cannot be retracted back even if deleted. Be very wary of what you say online. If in doubt, don’t post it. Your reputation and career is at stake here.
Finally, we left our audience with a beautiful story of how the Diabetes Online Community changed a man’s life through the event that is #simonpalooza. Watch the video here.
Maybe there were a few take home messages, but the main message (hah) we want to get across is that social media doesn’t have to be scary! Try it before you diss it and if you don’t know what you’re doing, fake it till you make it! Thank you again to Roche for inviting Stef and I to speak at this event and for the amazing Jayne Lehmann (@JayneEdHealth on Twitter) for chairing our session and keeping mischief at bay.