Social Technologies in Health Care – Part III

Note: This is the third in a series of posts based on material I provided in advance for  a two-part panel in March sponsored by ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership, “Social Technologies in Healthcare: Applications, Implications and What’s Next?

Question Three: How should medical associations/societies capitalize on social technologies in their work?

Societies and their members should get hands-on experience with social tools so they can see for themselves what the most productive uses would be. If they are concerned about HIPAA or patient privacy concerns, start by using the tools within your organization, apart from any direct patient-care application.

With that appropriate disclaimer, I’’ll offer a few practical steps to help you get started, and while step 5 may be most important I put it last so that you don’’t get so hung up in strategy that you don’’t do anything.

  1. Use the tools to help run the associations and as an added member benefit. Build outposts on the general-purpose social networking sites, particularly Facebook.
  2. Create a YouTube channel. Feature your members. Encourage them to create YouTube channels. Subscribe to each other’s’ channels and become “friends.” “Favorite” each other’s’ videos.
  3. Create a Twitter account for your association, if only for defensive purposes. Use Twitterfeed to automatically tweet. 
  4. Create one or more blogs. You’’ve got a Web site, right? That’s all a blog is: an easy-to-publish Web site that allows comments, interaction and sharing. You can make your blogs part of your site, or you can have your blog become your site.
  5. Think about how you will tie them all together into a coherent strategy. But don’t let yourself become paralyzed, waiting until you have the perfect strategy before you execute anything. You’ll learn as you go, and these tools are highly reconfigurable. But it’s a lot easier to modify your direction if you’re already moving than it is to get going from a dead stop. So start.

It won’t surprise SMUGgles that I advised diving in and getting hands-on experience. While not necessarily disagreeing, Frank Fortin, one of my fellow panelists, highly commended the POST method as outlined by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff in Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. I agree that this framework is helpful and also recommend reading Groundswell, but think the first step should be developing personal familiarity with the tools so you can envision potential applications for your organization.

I originally answered these questions about a month in advance of an event that was about a month ago, so my thinking has continued to evolve. In the final post in this series, I will highlight at least one area in which I now think a more aggressive strategy is in order.

Groundswell Review in Social Media Snippets

SMUGgle Scott Meis, an Associate Professor in SMUG’s Department of Political Science, has a couple of great posts reviewing Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies on his Social Media Snippets blog. Here are Part 1 and Part 2.

I had heard one of the authors, Charlene Li, at a Web 2.0 Summit and posted my review of her presentation at that time. I had planned to write a full review after I listened to the audio book on the return flight, but got otherwise occupied.

Thanks for your review, Scott!

Charlene Li Forrester Web 2.0 Presentation

I had the pleasure yesterday of presenting at a Web 2.0 Summit sponsored by Kaiser Permanente. Our panel was moderated by Ted Eytan, M.D., who also presented on his blogging experience from the last four years as part of Kaiser’s sister (or cousin, or some other relation I don’t completely understand) organization, Group Health. He’s an interesting guy who also has a passion for LEAN in Health Care, which is the topic of the other blog on which he is a collaborator. I also got to meet and hear Tim Collins from Wells Fargo, whose company has official blogs that include Guided by History, The Student LoanDown and one that supports Stagecoach Island, its virtual world. TIm says Wells Fargo was the first big brand in Second Life, but that they got out just as many others were starting to get in. Now they have a world of their own.

Charlene Li from Forrester Research opened the Summit with an overview of Web 2.0. She’s also the co-author of Groundswell, a book I just bought at (It’s also here on Amazon, and I’ll be reviewing it after I listen to it over the next few days). Before her presentation, we got to talk about our experience with audio books, and I recommended some from Patrick Lencioni that I think most people in business would find extremely helpful (and which I have reviewed on this blog): The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Silos, Politics and Turf Wars. (I thought I had reviewed Death by Meeting, too…but I guess that’s on my to-do list.)

I’ll have my full review of Groundswell, but meanwhile here are some of the high points and recommendations from Charlene’s presentation:

Focus on the relationships, not the technologies. At Forrester, they have developed a four-step process using the acronym POST. You should consider:

  • People – for those you want to reach and with whom you want to interact, consider their characteristics and what kinds of social media involvement they have already. Getting seniors into a 3D virtual world may be a mismatch, unless the group you’re targeting is retired Microsoft or IBM engineers.
  • Objectives – Decide what you want to accomplish
  • Strategy – Plan for how relationships with customers will change
  • Technology – Decide which social technologies to use

Charlene’s blog has a fuller discussion of POST, and I’m sure Groundswell will be even more detailed.

Part of analyzing People is determining where they are on the Ladder of Participation.

Charlene had a lot of other great material in her presentation, but she closed with some Keys to Success:

  1. Start with Your Customers.
  2. Choose Objectives You Can Measure
  3. LIne Up Executive Backing
  4. Romance the Naysayers
  5. Start Small, but Think Big

I particularly like that last point, because it fits with the SMUG (It’s all Free) philosophy. It’s possible to start small because the barriers to entry are practically non-existent, but you should plan for success to that you can scale up as necessary.

For example, you can start a blog hosted on and map to a domain or subdomain of your choosing for $10-$20 (and can extensively customize your look and feel for another $15). Later, if your blog is successful and you decide you want to host it elsewhere to allow more use of Flash and embedded widgets, you can just download and install WordPress from and re-map the domain, and you won’t lose any of your links. I’ll have more on that as I build out the Blogging curriculum.