A CONVERGENCE OF CARING AND CONNECTING
(View the full presentation of “Why Do We Blog” here.)
In exploring the archives of one of my favorite mindfulness teachers, Tara Brach, I found her story about receiving extraordinary medical attention while sustaining an injury during a retreat. Tara needed to be transported more than an hour to the nearest hospital, so she spent time getting to know the compassionate paramedics. She posits that the level of attention she received would never happen in a large and busy metropolis like Washington D.C. Afterwards, she even received a card from the ambulance crew with the following message:
The high road to service is traveled in compassion and understanding. People don’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care.
WHY SOME DOCTORS BLOG
Know Us For “Who We Are”
Serendipitously, I came across Tara’s message after watching a powerful and moving presentation by Dr. Jordan Grumet from the DotMed Conference. Dr. Grumet invites the healthcare community to join a Caring 2.0 movement. He talks about embracing empathy, and explains why he shares via his blog, “In My Humble Opinion.” If you take the time to watch one video, make it this one – which he calls “A Blog Delivered in Person.”
“We do such a good job of using social media and the Internet to tell people what we know, but we do a lousy job of telling people who we are. … And telling people who we are has become really important.
When I set out to write these stories, I set out to tell our patients who we are, what it feels like on the other side of the stethoscope.”
Dr. Brian Stork is a urologist who is passionate about health literacy and his community in West Michigan. You get a sense of “who he is” from his blog and community efforts. Every year, he posts about growing his mustache for Movember prostate cancer awareness, and he shares with colleagues in the global urology community. Through his blog, you learn he is also a beekeeper and a fisherman.
REASONS WHY PATIENTS BLOG
- To Share Information
- To Provide Support
- A Bridge Between Health Care Providers and Patients
- A View of Reality: Living With a Disease
- Being a Patient Advocate and Activist
- To Enhance Communication with Health Care Providers
Marie Ennis-O’Connor is a healthcare communications professional who is also a breast cancer survivor. Her award-winning blog, Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer, is a catalyst for a breast cancer community and shared experience. She says:
Writing for “Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer” and linking into a community of liked-minded bloggers has been the single most empowering thing that I have done in my journey with cancer. It has enriched my experience, brought new friendships into my life and expanded my horizons like nothing else. Cancer can be a frightening and lonely experience. Writing offers a refuge; being able to write about it honestly and unsparingly and connect with others is a powerful release mechanism. Sometimes the very act of writing our story and having it heard and acknowledged can go a long way towards healing what needs to be healed.
Vlogging, An Alternative to Blogging
Vlogging is blogging with video, and offers an alternative for those who may not have the time or inclination to write. Thaila Skye (a pseudonym) is an ePatient and vlogger who shares her candid experience of living with an ostomy with Ostomondays on YouTube. Her authentic demeanor (along with a charming accent) provide welcome knowledge and solace to many facing this life-changing event.
BLOGGING HEALTH IT
Learning and Teaching
Over the last 6 years of blogging, in which I’ve written regularly at least 2 times a week, I have grown to love blogging for three reasons. First, blogging forces me to commit my ideas to words. Taking thoughts, structuring them, and putting them into words that others can understand is an invaluable exercise. It also forces you to understand the subject matter. Second, blogging allows me to engage a wide base of people with my opinions. Topics are not typically black or white, and hearing opposing views either forces you to strengthen the basis your own opinions or to reconsider your opinions. Third, blogging keeps me up to date with the latest trending news in areas in which I’m interested. It is forced intellectual curiosity, or forced time for intellectual curiosity.
Many in healthcare technology blog to learn and teach. Melody Smith-Jones, who blogs for Perficient, says she is addicted to learning, and the best way to learn is to teach, “Social media as a whole, and blogging in particular, is my favorite way to learn because everyone is the student and everyone is the teacher.” Steve Sisko would agree, he says blogging helps him to become a better communicator,
For me, blogging provides a means to help clarify what’s on my mind. Putting thoughts into sentences – hopefully in a coherent fashion for others – helps me to better understand oft times difficult concepts and helps me to reconcile my personal beliefs and understandings of specific topics.
CONVERGENCE AND UNDERSTANDING
We all seek understanding. To me, blogging is a way to share sensemaking. I blog to cross-pollinate ideas – often from very disparate sources. I find that the more mindful I am, the more I invite serendipity and synchronicity.
The convergence of the Internet of Things is now poised to get even bigger. But I would like to leave you with a thought about connecting with a wider circle – the Internet of People (IoP). This post was not meant to be a “best of” list, but merely an introduction to some people who are passionate about healthcare. As bloggers, they are part of an estimated one percent of creators of content in a social world where 99 percent are curators and consumers of content.
Especially in healthcare, it seems our social conversations are still very much siloed. Take the time to read this eye-opening article from the Atlantic, and see why we need to start connecting the Internet of People. From ‘Cranky Pancreas’ Tweets: How the Diabetes Community Uses Social Media”:
@crankypancreas, @_diabadass, and @ninjabetic are part of an enthusiastic group of bloggers and tweeters who share their stories, exchange articles, and cultivate diabetes wit online. But, sadly, their humor goes unheard by the doctors, researchers, and health-care companies who work on the disease. Online, these two communities are largely separate: While diabetics and their friends and family usually discuss what it’s like to live with the disease, the professional medical community often circulates research findings and informational resources. …
As these maps show, different stakeholders seem to talk mostly among themselves. “Sometimes it’s a little bit unfortunate, the disconnect between those… different folks,” said Kelly.
So as we grow the Internet of Things, let’s start building the connections for the Internet of People!
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