Consumer Health Informatics Course – TYVM Guest Lecturers

Last semester I taught Consumer Health Informatics and Web 2.0 in Healthcare in the College of Pharmacy (COP) after having coordinated several iterations of it in the MS in Biomedical Informatics Program. At the end of the COP course, I asked the students for their opinions about the most useful and least useful lectures of the semester (with an eye towards improving future offerings). Many of the students mentioned topics that were discussed by one of the six excellent guest lecturers. While I sincerely appreciate each guest lecturer’s contribution, I thought it would be even more meaningful to share a student response about each guest lecturer/topic.

I’ll use the format below to do so (lecturers appear in the order they taught during the semester):

Student quote
Guest Lecturer
Affiliation
“Lecture Topic”

The course’s most useful lecture was Dr. Kang’s since it focused on policy and the big picture instead of just one or two tools.
Jeah-Ah Kang, PharmD
Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC)
“Promotion of FDA-Regulated Medical Products Using the Internet and Social Media Tools”

Most useful was Dr. Gualtieri’s because it may be the only one that really looked at things from the patient’s side.
Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM
Tufts University School of Medicine
“Blogging for Health: Communicating the Experience of Illness”

Most useful lecture was Dr. Dyer’s lecture. It was very cool seeing how healthcare was using this new tech and getting positive results. Very. Cool.
Jennifer Dyer, MD, MPH
Ohio State University, College of Medicine
“RU TAKING UR MEDS? (DR. SEZ TEXTING TEENZ HELPS!)”

I would like to see more experts like Dr. Fahrni. His lecture was most useful. It provided insight on what this breed of pharmacist does on a daily basis.
Jerry Fahrni, PharmD
Kaweah Delta District Hospital (now Talyst)
“Pharmacy Informatics – One Pharmacist’s Perspective”

The most useful topic was Dr. Mesko’s on virtual worlds because it was most forward looking. I wish we would use it more and create our own avatars.
Bertalan Mesko, MD
University of Debrecen Medical School
“Medicine in Second Life, the virtual world”

The most useful lecture topic would have to be the final lecture from Dr. Fox, it was extremely informative and I enjoyed it a lot. I’d like to see an additional lecture from him.
Brent Fox, PharmD, PhD
University of Auburn, College of Pharmacy
“The Pharmacist’s Role in Health 2.0”

 

Social media presence for the course contributors can be found here:

Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM (@lisagualtieri)

Jennifer Dyer, MD, MPH (@EndoGoddess)

Jerry Fahrni, PharmD (@JFahrni)

Bertalan Mesko, MD (@Berci)

Brent Fox, PharmD, PhD (@Brent_Fox)

 

@kevinclauson

Intersection of social media and research

There are a number of initiatives, sites, and platforms trying to capitalize on the power of social media and social networking to enhance research efforts. A few of them are ResearchGate, Health InnoVation Exchange (HIVE), and VIVO.  Each offers something a bit different; for a full list of ‘biomedical communities’ check out this excellent resource by @Berci Mesko.

Aside from those ‘communities’, can social media enhance research?  For me, the answer is a resounding yes.  I have both observed and directly benefitted via plenty of resources.  Here is a random sample: a source of support for grad students that hosts data sets, actual datasets made freely available for conducting research, a how-to for using Facebook to recruit survey participants,  and a prelim study on use of Facebook for health education.

However, for me, the clearest benefit has been from social networking tools; chief among those is Twitter.  It has helped my research by: 1) connecting me to people with complementary expertise for collaborating on research projects, 2) exposing me to different types of expertise and ways to approach problem solving for research, and 3) creating a filtered source of relevant information about research.

It’s that last item that I want to focus on.  A little over six months ago, I saw a tweet from @mindofandre (who has the excellent Pulse+Signal) announcing a RFP for the Mobilizing for Health grant by the McKesson Foundation.  For some reason, I did not see that RFP on my Community of Science alerts, or any of the other resources I use to stay informed on grant opportunities.  Thankfully, I did see it on Twitter.  It looked like a great match for a study our mHealth group wanted to conduct. Fast-forward 6 months and past lots of heavy lifting by my colleagues, and we are very happy we’ll be able to conduct that study as ours was one of the proposals funded!  Now that I think of it, Andre was the person who put us into touch with several other mHealth researchers about 10 months prior to that as well – quite the Gladwellian Connector, that one.  In any event, this is just one example of the intersection of social media and research.  The tools are there, you just have to use them.

Oh, and in the best pay-it-forward tradition, here are two outstanding mHealth research-related opportunities:

  1. NIH/OBSSR mHealth Summer Institute where early career investigators will get an intensive weeklong experience to learn about mHealth research. (Deadline extended until March 10)
  2. The new cycle for the McKesson Foundation Mobilizing for Health grant has begun and Letters of Intent are due on April 1, 2011.

I’d love to hear any examples of how social media has impacted your research – by creating opportunities, informing you, using it as a tool to collect data, connecting you with potential collaborators, etc.

@kevinclauson

Soapbox 2.0: Use of blogs by pharmacists

I saw a tweet by John @Poikonen that alerted me to the fact that a second article in as many weeks has been published on pharmacy and blogs.  Two pharmacy students (Justin Elkins and Chilla Goncz) and I authored “Use of blogs by pharmacists“, which appears in the new issue of the American Journal of Health System Pharmacy.  We identified all blogs that were pharmacist-authored, active (i.e. posts in the last 3 months), and written in English.  Blogs focused on pharmacy, but not written by a pharmacist were excluded.  Forty-four blogs were identified that fit those criteria.  We used the most recent 5 posts to assess the blogs based on six categories (e.g. practice based topics, identifying information, positive language, critical language, professionalism and miscellaneous). 

Most pharmacist blogs (68%) were written anonymously (versus 43% in Lagu’s study of physician and nurse blogs).  Pharmacist bloggers were equally represented by community (43%) and non-community settings (43%); the practice settings of the remainder were indeterminable.  These blogs most commonly used positive language to describe the profession (32%), other health care professionals (25%), and patients (25%).  Critical language was more commonly observed in descriptions of patients (57%); almost half of all posts contained profane or explicit language (48%). 

Most of the blogs (71%) contained mentions of pharmacologic therapies and current healthcare events (66%).  We also noted that 25% of these bloggers had a Twitter account (relative to 11% of the general population in the same timeframe per Pew).  Out of the 11 pharmacist blogs that were ranked by Technorati, all but two were primarily of a ‘ranting’ nature (e.g. Angry Pharmacist, Angriest Pharmacist, Your Pharmacist May Hate You).  Interestingly, the only two ranked, but non-ranting blogs were written by non-US pharmacists. 

Our full AJHP article lists all of the 44 blogs and while it is not open access, my hope is that via ASHP Connect and rapid response that this list of pharmacist blogs can be updated and curated using our article as a starting point.   

@kevinclauson

Analysis of pharmacy-centric blogs

We’ve seen analyses of blogs by physicians & nurses [1], medical bloggers [2], etc.  However, the excellent article “Analysis of pharmacy-centric blogs: Types, discourse themes, and issues” by Jeff Cain (@jjcain00) is the first analysis of pharmacy-centric blogs.  It appears in the the new issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association and presents a balanced view of the pharmacy blogosphere.  It found that social media promotes transparency (except for authorship).  It also recognized that the degree of disinhibiton in the Web 2.0 world may have contributed to a substantial number of these blogs containing negative content about patients, pharmacy, and other healthcare professionals.  Cain and Dillon categorized 136 pharmacy-related blogs into: news, personal views, student oriented, career focused, etc.  Blog posts were also scored as positive (e.g. demonstrating empathy, supplying helpful drug information), negative (e.g. complaints, foul language), or neutral.  Cain and Dillon asserted that despite three of the top four blog themes being negative, these blogs likely had no real impact on the public perception of pharmacy as their readership “likely does not extend beyond the personal acquaintances of the bloggers and others in the profession”.  Overall, they found a variety of blog types with a preponderance of negative and derogatory posts.  Some primarily positive ones were identified as well.  The authors suggested the personal view blogs may be best used to educate student pharmacists and the profession about issues they will face.

@kevinclauson

[1] Lagu T, Kaufman EJ, Asch DA, Armstrong K. Content of weblogs written by health professionals. J Gen Intern Med 2008;23(10):1642-6.
[2] Kovic I, Lulic I, Brumini G. Examining the medical blogosphere: an online survey of medical bloggers. J Med Internet Res 2008;10(3):e28.

Three Perspectives on Using Twitter

Recently I have seen another round of the cyclical deluge of posts, pointers, and tips telling people what Twitter is meant for and ‘instructing’ them how they should use it. Most of this advice is invariably wrong simply because there is no certain way that Twitter should be used. It is impossible. Even Twitter doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up yet.

However, there are three perpectives about using Twitter that I believe have real merit.  The ties that bind all three are that each touches on a range of uses for Twitter and the tones are personalized and/or contemplative, rather than authoritative.

1. How I Use Twitter as a Killer Filtering App by @Doctor_V [Nov 3, 2010]
    Concise, clean approach that recognizes the fluid nature of the tool and how it can be employed

2. Twitter: filter, suggestion box, idea machine, window by @SusannahFox [Oct 18, 2010]
     Four featured functions of Twitter including example accounts that support each method used

Both of those posts, like all good blog posts, have a number of comments that really add value.  The third perspective is…well, it’s a little different.  I first watched it on my phone and felt like I was watching a cross between Phil Laak and Mike Caro. @AndrewSpong aptly characterized it as “structured free association”.  Just keep your hands inside the car and hang on for the ride that is:

3. The Four Modes of Twitter: Focused, Filtered, Serendipitous and Random by @PhilBaumann via @HealthIsSocial [Oct 29/Nov 4 2010]

I have collected these three perspectives here as a resource for those trying to figure out if it makes sense for them to use Twitter or those trying to get a better idea of Twitter’s utility or lack thereof. The first two perspectives are particularly well-suited for healthcare professionals, researchers, academicians, and students. The third offers more of a James Joyce exploration of the potential of Twitter and is not for the faint of heart. I believe all three have value and hope you find the same.

@kevinclauson

Soapbox 2.0: Blog and microblog use by pharmacists for ranting and discourse

This poster project was driven by a couple of very motivated pharmacy students and recently presented in poster form at the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting.  I was prompted to post it because of a recent tweet by @SusannahFox about the Health On Net Code.  As with all posters, the complete results are not contained here.  Ironically, the fact that while about a third of pharmacist blogs contained disclaimers, only 7% contained evidence of HON certification is not included on this poster – despite that piece being the impetus for this post.  Of note, the Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics seal was not similarly tracked at the time of the study.

The full manuscript will hopefully be published in a peer-reviewed journal in the not-too-distant future [Update: Article will be published in AJHP later in 2010].

@kevinclauson

Source:

Elkins J, Goncz CE, Somnarain R, Clauson KA. Soapbox 2.0: Blog and microblog use by pharmacists for ranting and discourse. Presented at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting, Las Vegas, NV, December 2009.