What matters today may not be what mattered last month, last year, or next year.
Health 2.0 is a conversation. Which means that talking can only get you so far. If you want to be a good online conversationalist, you also have to listen.
Social media, in general, attracts far more listeners than speakers . As a rule of thumb, you can assume that for every person who posts, 5 will reply and 95 will listen to the conversation without participating.
This isn’t a bad ratio to adopt for your own participation in social media. Spend 95% of your time listening and the 5% of your time that you spend talking will include thoughts that are really worthwhile, because you will be addressing patients’ real needs and concerns.
What sorts of things should you be listening for? The five w’s are a good start. Who’s talking? What are they talking about? When do conversations take place – in other words, what are the triggers? Where are conversations taking place? And why does it matter now?
The now part is key. What matters today may not be what mattered last month, last year, or next year. We know about the changes in patients’ lives – the journey they take from symptomatic to newly diagnosed to seasoned patient. But we sometimes forget that the world is having an impact on that journey, too.
If you listen today, you are likely to find that the economy and the discussion around healthcare reform are both having a tremendous impact on your patients. Medicare, insurance and access issues are a perennial concern for patients with rare disorders. But for many people, the economy has added a new - sometimes very personal – feeling of urgency. And for some, the discussion of healthcare reform has created an uncomfortable feeling of not knowing what comes next.
The internet is a key place people turn for help with economic problems. A recent Pew study found that 88% of internet users have gone online to get help with economic problems caused by the recession. And with so many people losing jobs and benefits, you can bet that one of those problems is financing healthcare.
What does that mean to you? It means that any assistance you can provide that will help patients find their way through the maze of healthcare financing will be highly valued. In the rare disorder world, where therapies may be bioequivalent, services like these are what make you stand out. And they may be services you already offer but your patients are unaware of. Which is another piece of information you should be alert for.
So listen. You may find out some surprising things.
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(Image courtesy of Drew Herron via Flickr)
- 10 September 2009 at 11:09am
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