“Meaningful Use” of Social Media at Stanford Medicine 2.0

Never before has a healthcare, medical, or pharma 2.0 conference sought to include the voice of the ePatient as generously as the upcoming Stanford Summit & Medicine 2.0 Congress, September 16-18. An unprecedented 23 ePatient scholarships (five full scholarships, two travel awards, and 18 partial scholarships) were awarded by the Stanford Organizing Committee because it “believes that patients are a vital component to dialogue about the future of medicine and emerging technology. Unfortunately the cost of healthcare conferences often precludes ePatient participation.”

Founder and producer Gunther Eysenbach has had a long-term goal for Medicine 2.0: “to create a virtual community of academics, practitioners and businesses working in the field of social media in health and medicine, with ongoing conversations and collaboration between events.” To facilitate this social collaboration, a list of attendees and speakers can be found on the Medicine 2.0 website. The Twitter hashtag for the conference is #med2 and Medicine 2.0 can also be found on Facebook.

Technology Acceptance Model Predicts Use of New Technologies

Social media is also part of the agenda with a panel discussion on the “Meaningful Use” of Social Media by Physicians according to Brian McGowan. PhD, aka @cmeadvocate. McGowan, Bryan Vartabedian, MD; Robert S. Miller, MD; and Molly Wasko, PhD, conducted research on physicians’ use of social media for lifelong learning and the data is being shared in advance to allow examination of the findings and, perhaps, to offer additional insights for the panel discussion at Medicine 2.0.

Although the social media research conducted by McGowan’s team is not technically on the official “meaningful use” guidelines, it did seek to uncover physicians’ beliefs or perceptions about why they would or would not adopt social media. “We used the Technology Acceptance Model which allows you to predict usage or the intent to use a new technology,” explains McGowan. The Technology Acceptance Model was also recently used to explore the meaningful use of EMR.

Asking Physicians the Right Questions

McGowan explained to me that most of the previous research on physicians’ use of social media has been flawed because of the way questions were asked (i.e., “Do you use social media?”). Instead, his research team focused on one particular use: Can physicians use social media channels to share and exchange medical information with other physicians as part of their lifelong learning?

“There are three meaningful ways physicians can use social media: to treat patients, the most risky; to teach, as a public health channel; or to learn, sharing information with other physicians,” according to McGowan. He says this focus on the third use, for lifelong learning, is the biggest limitation of the dataset, but also its greatest strength.

Physicians - Social Media Channels Used

The graph shows the results of the study with red bars representing physicians who answered they were “current users” of a social technology and blue bars representing physicians who “will never use” a technology. During our interview for this post, I questioned why “Google Alerts” was not part of research. McGowan says that is exactly the type of feedback the team is hoping more people will bring to the discussion at Medicine 2.0.

Which of the above findings on physicians’ use of social media do you find surprising?

This guest post is by Angela Dunn, a consultant in social business innovation and a writer in healthcare technology. Dunn is also an official blogger for conferences related to innovation and healthcare. She is known as blogbrevity on Twitter where she leads a monthly chat on ideas with the hashtag, #ideachat. You can also follow Angela Dunn on Google+.

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HealthIsCool is a writer and trends analyst. She writes about health innovation, wearable tech, the Internet of Things (IoT), new health technologies, and future trends. Her latest trends research includes: The Rise of Wearable Technology and Google's Ambitions in Healthcare. Follow on Twitter at @HealthIsCool.