Pharmacist use of social media

The most recent hat tip for alerting me that one of my articles was published goes to @redheadedpharm, who also has one of the most thoughtful pharmacist authored blogs out there IMHO.  I should note that by drawing my attention to the article, TRP does not endorse the contents nor see eye-to-eye with me regarding pharmacists, pharmacy, or social media.  And that’s ok. I have to think no rational person just wants an echo chamber.  In fact, I may revisit the whole ‘landscape of pharmacist blogs’ in a future post if I can figure out a way to do so that doesn’t involve generating the hate e-mail and widespread snark that the AJHP article did.* 

In any event, I did want to share that the article I assisted Drs. Alkhateeb and Latif with is titled Pharmacist use of social media and was published in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice.  As you can see to the left, this is a Short Communication and essentially provides a snapshot of social media use by pharmacists in West Virginia.  The most frequently used applications in this group of surveyed pharmacists included: YouTube (74%), Wikipedia (72%), Facebook (50%), and blogs (26%). Twitter (12%) and LinkedIn (12%) were also used by the respondents.  In a sense, it was a confirmatory study in that it verified some things we thought we knew about pharmacists and social media.  Some of the findings (e.g., 50% use of Facebook) were a little surprising.  Use of Facebook, in particular was examined a little more in-depth; only 15.8% indicated they used it for any professional purpose.  Usage patterns largely reflected those of non-healthcare professionals…these pharmacists used Facebook to keep in touch with colleagues, chat, upload pictures, etc. 

@kevinclauson

*It’s interesting how ‘hate e-mail’ can be a touchstone for publication topics.  The pharmacists blog study generated a dubious top 5 level volume of hate e-mail.  It was among the best written hate e-mail (which was oddly encouraging), but didn’t come close to the level produced after our Wikipedia paper came out.  To be fair, the sheer number of Wikipedia users and the widespread coverage** it received probably contributed to its you-are-as-bad-as-the-scientists-doing-research-on-puppies outrage. 

**Curious fact, of all the interviews I’ve done about our research over the years (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, BBC, NPR, New Scientist, etc.) the most hardcore fact-checkers were from Good Housekeeping and Fitness Magazine. Seriously.

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

If this level of creativity could only be used for ‘good’

The 10th annual ePharma Summit was held over the last few days in NY.  I was interested due to some of the scheduled speakers but could not make it, so I dipped in and out of the virtual conference stream as possible and found some pretty worthwhile content in there.  The most convenient way to follow was via #ePharma on Twitter, but the conference site also did a pretty good job of posting videos (although the audio was almost inaudible at times) and other information.

What ultimately prompted me to blog about it was a tweet (via @WendyBlackburn & @pjmachado) about a parody video produced by Kevin Nalty (@nalts) [see below].  It just struck me as creative, funny, and very strong work…and it made me think how great it would be if that kind of creativity could be unleashed to design social media/mobile/any type of health-related content aimed at informing, educating, and empowering patients.  Yes, the creativity behind this video is being used for ‘good’, but minus the shackles it could be used for a much greater ‘good’.  I think that social media, in particular, has a lot to offer on this front and it is unfortunate that the regulatory environment is such that this is largely not possible right now.  There have been some efforts along these lines and there was even a preliminary paper just published on the use of Facebook to deliver HIV education.  However, there remains a long way to go – and I’m not just talking about ‘official guidance’ in a single arena. 

More anon, for now…I hope you enjoy the video.

@kevinclauson

Note: If you click on the video it may say it is restricted on certain sites as it contains content from Universal Music Group and must be played on You Tube…so you can click ‘Watch on YouTube’ to play or go to the epharmify Channel to view it.

Analysis of pharmacist generated Twitter content

Click image to enlarge

A tweet by Katherine Chretien (@MotherinMed) that her new article on physicians & Twitter has been published in JAMA served to remind me that I forgot to blog the poster presentation of our project, “Analysis of a national sample of pharmacist generated Twitter content”  that was presented at the 45th Annual ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting in December in Anaheim.  I did remember to send a tweet with a link to the image at the time (#ashpmidyear), but the rest escaped me.  The poster is the PharmTwitter project that @markhawker and I and a couple NSU students worked on and represents an earlier stage with preliminary results.  As an aside, we prepared a ‘conventional’ version of this poster for the meeting as well and then put it to a vote among the project team members as to which one to use at the conference.  The vote ended up being a tie, so we had to use a tiebreaker.

Hopefully the full results will be coming soon via a journal near you (hint: it’s won’t be JAMA).  All comments, as always, are welcome.

@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

mHealth Summit 2010 ATF Part 1

I already miss the sound of the techno music from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center at the 2010 mHealth Summit.  Because I’ve seen a number of questions about what mHealth is, here is my preferred definition from lecture courtesy of @mHealthAlliance: “the use of mobile devices and global networks to deliver health services and information”.  One reason I like this definition is its emphasis on the ‘network’ piece.  It allows for a much broader application.  I understand the desire by some for the term uHealth (u=ubiquitous) and others, like one presenter at AMIA 2-3 years ago from Rockefeller, who yearn for everything to eventually just be ‘health’.  While recognizing that the types of labels like mHealth can definitely be problematic in the long-run, they also can be really useful in the short term for conveying a basic context, getting people to the table, and creating rallying points…which brings me to my next point.  One of the oft-parroted comments of the Summit was that there was too much hype about mHealth.  Unfortunately the word ‘hype’ was being used interchangeably with ‘excitement’ in many cases.  Of course mHealth isn’t a panacea and there are serious obstacles to navigate.  But let’s not lose sight of the fact that it is really hard to motivate people, to excite people, and to generate momentum…and mHealth is accomplishing those things.  So please let’s not be so terrified about overpromising and under-delivering that we squash genuine enthusiasm.  Of course there are speed bumps and as @joncamfield noted, there are definitely some mobile parlor tricks to be wary of out there (he also had the fantastic idea of an implementer track for next year).  In the interest of being fair and balanced, here is an example of a public health/mHealth app featuring augmented reality that may mean well but has questionable execution [EDIT: yes, the video below is for an actual app].

Onto the conference proper…David Aylward, Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance, began with a pseudo-demo of wearable body area networking for basic vitals.  Side note: Aylward closed the conference while wearing a Bugs Bunny tie that I speculated was an ode to Ted Turner and his Cartoon Network.  This remains unconfirmed.  Slightly more relevant, the conference was livestreamed and h/t to @planetrussell who noted that videos from the stream are starting to appear in various YouTube channels.

 

The first two WOW moments of #mhs10 for me included the announcement of the 2011 NIH Summer Institute on mHealth Research, which will provide specialized training opportunities for 25 researchers.

 

The second was during a panel presentation by @JoshNesbit in which he shared a word cloud of the tweets from Haiti following the earthquake.  The wow moment was when he pointed out that the second most tweeted word was ‘please’.  That revelation definitely gave me pause. 

End ATF: Part 1

@kevinclauson

 

Part 2 may or may not highlight snarky entrepreneurs, bedsore-preventing robots, keynote Star Wars quotes, and actual data.

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

Digital Participation Guidelines and Social Media Policies

Social Media Governance,  by Chris Boudreaux (@cboudreaux), maintains a list of companies with linkable social media guidelines and/or policies.  He currently has 154 company entries in his database ranging from Ford Motor Company to The Ohio State Medical Center to MD Anderson Cancer Center. 

The topic of corporate and company social media guidelines and policies seems to be coming across my desk more often of late.  Although the Scribd (i.e., ‘social publishing ‘ site) item above is only a summary document with the friendly title “Digital Participation Guidelines” and not from a company focused on healthcare, it is still instructive.  I like the emphasis on transparency and in putting employees in a position to succeed when ‘participating digitally’.  The guidelines are promising in doing the following things:

  1. Recognizing employees’ propensity to make mistakes and trying to help them be proactive in avoiding them.
  2. Providing a clear idea of what circumstances support an individual employee’s qualified comments versus mandating a higher level response.
  3. Reiterating that digital now equals permanent.
  4. Encouraging collegiality and courtesy in communications.

Granted, from a legal perspective, they can be considered a little vague – but to be fair they spell that out along with the link to their more detailed, internal docs on the topic. 

A more formal example is from the Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC).


I also like this more detailed breakdown of institutional and personal use by OSUMC.  A particularly useful example it provides is when an employee creates a personal blog on their own time but mentions or describes themselves “in their OSUMC roles”.  Despite all other aspects being ‘personal’, once that staff member introduces OSUMC employeement into the equation on their blog, that blog is then “governed by the Social Media Participation Policy” of OSUMC even though it also carries the required, “The views expressed here are my own and not those of my employer” statement.

Another great resource is the CDC Social Media Tools Guidelines and Best Practices.  It actually has a breakdown by tool (e.g., Microblogs, YouTube, SMS) with separate documents covering each.

Bottom line: if you are using any social media/Web 2.0 tools and have mentioned or plan on mentioning your place of employment, you would be well-served to check and see if your institution has any social media guidelines or digital participation policies.  Even if they don’t (yet), conducting yourself as if they do and following common conventions in those spaces would not be a bad idea.  I suspect we may eventually see that social media policy training will be as universal as the sessions we get now on HIPAA and sexual harassment.  It may just take a major lawsuit to cross that barrier – here’s hoping it’s none of us that make history in that manner!

@kevinclauson