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Healthcare Interoperability is Solved … But What Does That Really Mean? – #HITExpo Insights

Posted on June 12, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One of the best parts of the new community we created at the Health IT Expo conference is the way attendees at the conference and those in the broader healthcare IT community engage on Twitter using the #HITExpo hashtag before, during, and after the event.  It’s a treasure trove of insights, ideas, practical innovations, and amazing people.  Don’t forget that last part since social media platforms are great at connecting people even if they are usually in the news for other reasons.

A great example of some great knowledge sharing that happened on the #HITExpo hashtag came from Don Lee (@dflee30) who runs #HCBiz, a long time podcast which he recorded live from Health IT Expo.  After the event, Don offered his thoughts on what he thought was the most important conversation about “Solving Interoperability” that came from the conference.  You can read his thoughts on Twitter or we’ve compiled all 23 tweets for easy reading below (A Big Thanks to Thread Reader for making this easy).

As shared by Don Lee:

1/ Finally working through all my notes from the #HITExpo. The most important conversation to me was the one about “solving interoperability” with @RasuShrestha@PaulMBlack and @techguy.

2/ Rasu told the story of what UPMC accomplished using DBMotion. How it enabled the flow of data amongst the many hospitals, clinics and docs in their very large system. #hitexpo

3/ John challenged him a bit and said: it sounds like you’re saying that you’ve solved #interoperability. Is that what you’re telling us? #hitexpo

4/ Rasu explained in more detail that they had done the hard work of establishing syntactic interop amongst the various systems they dealt with (I.e. they can physically move the data from one system to another and put it in a proper place). #hitexpo

5/ He went on and explained how they had then done the hard work of establishing semantic interoperability amongst the many systems they deal with. That means now all the data could be moved, put in its proper place, AND they knew what it meant. #hitexpo

6/ Syntactic interop isn’t very useful in and of itself. You have data but it’s not mastered and not yet useable in analytics. #hitexpo

7/ Semantic interop is the mastering of the data in such a way that you are confident you can use it in analytics, ML, AI, etc. Now you can, say, find the most recent BP for a patient pop regardless of which EMR in your system it originated. And have confidence in it. #hitexpo

8/ Semantic interop is closely related to the concept of #DataFidelity that @BigDataCXO talks about. It’s the quality of data for a purpose. And it’s very hard work. #hitexpo

9/ In the end, @RasuShrestha’s answer was that UPMC had done all of that hard work and therefore had made huge strides in solving interop within their system. He said “I’m not flying the mission accomplished banner just yet”. #hitexpo

10/ Then @PaulMBlack – CEO at @Allscripts – said that @RasuShrestha was being modest and that they had in fact “Solved interoperability.”

I think he’s right and that’s what this tweet storm is about. Coincidentally, it’s a matter of semantics. #hitexpo

11/ I think Rasu dialed it back a bit because he knew that people would hear that and think it means something different. #hitexpo

12/ The overall industry conversation tends to be about ubiquitous, semantic interop where all data is available everywhere and everyone knows what it means. I believe Rasu was saying that they hadn’t achieved that. And that makes sense… because it’s impossible. #hitexpo

13/ @GraceCordovano asked the perfect question and I wish there had been a whole session dedicated to answering it: (paraphrasing) What’s the difference between your institutional definition of interop and what the patients are talking about? #hitexpo

14/ The answer to that question is the crux of our issue. The thing patients want and need is for everyone who cares for them to be on the same page. Interop is very relevant to that issue, obviously, but there’s a lot of friction and it goes way beyond tech. #hitexpo

15/ Also, despite common misconception, no other industry has solved this either. Sure, my credit card works in Europe and Asia and gets back to my bank in the US, but that’s just a use case. There is no ubiquitous semantic interop between JP Morgan Chase and HSBC.

16/ There are lots of use cases that work in healthcare too. E-Prescribing, claims processing and all the related HIPAA transactions, etc. #hitexpo

17/ Also worth noting… Canada has single payer system and they also don’t have clinical interoperability.

This is not a problem unique to healthcare nor the US. #hitexpo

18/ So healthcare needs to pick its use cases and do the hard work. That’s what Rasu described on stage. That’s what Paul was saying has been accomplished. They are both right. And you can do it too. #hitexpo

19/ So good news: #interoperability is solved in #healthcare.

Bad news: It’s a ton of work and everyone needs to do it.

More bad news: You have to keep doing it forever (it breaks, new partners, new sources, new data to care about, etc). #hitexpo

19/ Some day there will be patient mediated exchange that solves the patient side of the problem and does it in a way that works for everyone. Maybe on a #blockchain. Maybe something else. But it’s 10+ years away. #hitexpo

20/ In the meantime my recommendation to clinical orgs – support your regional #HIE. Even UPMC’s very good solution only works for data sources they know about. Your patients are getting care outside your system and in a growing # of clinical and community based settings. #hitexpo

21/ the regional #HIE is the only near-term solution that even remotely resembles semantic, ubiquitous #interoperability in #healthcare.
#hitexpo

22/ My recommendation to patients: You have to take matters into your own hands for now. Use consumer tools like Apple health records and even Dropbox like @ShahidNShah suggested in another #hitexpo session. Also, tell your clinicians to support and use the regional #HIE.

23/ So that got long. I’ll end it here. What do you think?

P.S. the #hitexpo was very good. You should check it out in 2019.

A big thank you to Don Lee for sharing these perspectives and diving in much deeper than we can do in 45 minutes on stage. This is what makes the Health IT Expo community special. People with deep understanding of a problem fleshing out the realities of the problem so we can better understand how to address them. Plus, the sharing happens year round as opposed to just at a few days at the conference.

Speaking of which, what do you think of Don’s thoughts above? Is he right? Is there something he’s missing? Is there more depth to this conversation that we need to understand? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, and perspectives in the comments or on social media using the #HITExpo hashtag.

Social Media Still Controversial in Healthcare?

Posted on October 6, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Thirteen years after the first Facebook post and eleven years after the first tweet, social media use by healthcare professionals continues to be a controversial topic.

In October last year, nurse Carolyn Strom was found guilty of “professional misconduct” by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association (SRNA) for a post she made on Facebook. On February 25th 2015 Strom posted the following comment following her grandfather’s death at St Joseph’s Health Facility (Strom did not work at that facility):

“My grandfather spent a week in palliative care before he died and after hearing about his and my family’s experience there, it is evident that not everyone is ‘up to speed’ on how to approach end of life care or how to help maintain an aging senior’s dignity.”

“I challenge the people involved in decision making with that facility to please get all your staff a refresher on this topic and more. Don’t get me wrong, ‘some’ people have provided excellent care so I thank you so very much for your efforts, but to those who made Grandpa’s last years less than desirable, please do better next time.”

André Picard wrote an excellent post earlier this year about the Strom “professional misconduct” decision by the nurse association.

This case and a recent Canadian Medical Association session on the lack of civility between physicians on social media served as the kernel of a recent #hcldr chat led by guest hosts Pat Rich @pat_health and Trish Paton @TrishPaton.

A clear sentiment from the #hcldr community was that healthcare regulatory bodies and professional associations were woefully behind-the-times when it came to social media policy.

Matthew Katz MD had a keen observation and suggestion for regulators:

Fear of fines and sanctions from regulatory bodies/associations coupled with the very real danger of being ostracized by peers, have effectively made social media into a “no-go” zone for healthcare professionals.

Robert Mahoney @mahoneyr had a very interesting take on social media posts from healthcare professionals.

Thankfully there are some progressive healthcare organizations out there who actually encourage their healthcare professionals to get engaged online. To help their staff navigate social media, they have created clear policies and guidelines so that they do not run afoul of regulatory bodies. The Mayo Clinic shared theirs with the community:

What are your thoughts about healthcare professionals, governing associations and social media?

Vendor Involvement in Online Communities – Caution but Proceed Forward

Posted on May 22, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

At the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit #HMPS17 (May 8-10 in Austin TX), I presented alongside Dan Dunlop @dandunlop President of Jennings and Cindy Price Gavin @cindypricegavin, Founding Executive Director of Let’s Win! Sharing Science Solutions for Pancreatic Cancer. The three of us will discuss Online Communities

The same week on the #hcldr tweetchat we asked the community for opinions on vendor involvement in online healthcare communities:

  • Should healthcare vendors join online communities or stay clear?
  • Should online communities like #hcldr #lcsm #LupusChat or #bcsm be accepting of sponsorships or would they lose too much credibility?

These questions generated a lot of discussion and a variety of viewpoints were shared.

In general, most people were favorable to vendors participating in online communities – as long as they didn’t try to push their products/services while interacting with community members.

One particularly interesting viewpoint was shared by Ken Gordon @quickmuse:

Ken’s point is well made: people want to connect with people, not faceless company avatars. In an online community, members want to interact with other members and get useful information. So if a company wants to participate, one easy path to success is to allow individuals from the company be the participant not the company account itself. The company “wins” twofold with this approach. First, employees will feel valued and trusted since the company is allowing them to express themselves online. Second, the company will gain goodwill be seen by the association to active members who are contributing to the conversation.

There are plenty of great examples from both the #hcldr and #HITsm communities. Just look at @TextraHealth, @OchoTex, @burtrosen, @MandiBPro, @drnic1 and @techguy – each represents the company they work for/at AND contributes to the community as unique individuals. They are all trusted individuals and by extension we look upon the organizations they represent more favorably.

One of the most important factors to vendor involvement in an online healthcare community is disclosure. This was brought up several times when #hcldr discussed the second question:

Many recommended that community leaders establish clear guidelines for how sponsorship money would to be used and to publish what vendors could expect/not expect in return for their $$$.

Other practical advice for community administrators and hosts included:

Personally, I believe vendors SHOULD get involved in online healthcare communities – even if just to listen to what their target audiences are saying. They could learn so much just by seeing what topics are being discussed and the frustrations people are experiencing. Product marketers and developers would have a field day with all the information being shared online.

One word of caution though – when vendors do decide to participate, they need to realize that many in the community will be very skeptical at the start. Online communities are typically outgrowths of individual passions and interests. As such, corporations can be viewed by many as “invaders” into a private space. So caution…but please proceed forward.

Enhance Your Conference Experience with Social Media

Posted on May 15, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

The Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit #HMPS17 has come to a close and I am reminded again of the power that social media has to enhance the whole conference experience. Pre-mobile, as an attendee, you could count on making 10-20 contacts during a conference…more if you really “worked the room” at the social events. Today it is entirely possible to meet 50+ new people at a conference by leveraging social media before and during the event.

At #HMPS17 I saw many examples of how social media has changed the attendee dynamics at conferences. I watched a group of 5 Instagram users meetup at the hotel restaurant (I’m pretty sure some food pics were taken!). I also saw two different groups of Facebook friends head out for a night on the town together. Of course, the #hcldr community had a meetup in the hotel lobby that attracted 8 people – 5 of whom came to the hotel just for the meetup (Thanks for driving 2hrs from Houston @JoeBabaian!)

During the conference itself I ran into at least 20 other people that knew from social media. All of these were first-time meetings (or what I call meeting old friends for the first time). This degree of networking would have been very difficult in the era before social media. You would have had to attend the same conference consistently for a number of years in order for people to get to know you. I would encourage fellow marketers and salespeople to get active on social media. There simply is no better accelerator for business relationships.

Since #HMPS17 spanned a Tuesday, I had the rare opportunity to organize a group session for the weekly #hcldr chat. Four of us gathered together and participated in the tweetchat while physically sitting beside each other. If you’ve never done this or seen it, it does look very strange. People are staring at their devices, madly typing and barely talking. Then all of a sudden someone will make a comment out loud about a tweet they have read and everyone chimes in with a verbal comment. Usually these side conversations last 1-2 minutes and then people go back to their devices. A few minutes later it happens again.

Through the one we held at #HMPS17 I now have two new friends: Alexis Todd and Tori Benick of UltraLinq. It was truly wonderful to see how much they enjoyed their first tweetchat. Dan Dunlop @dandunlop (who was the other in-person participant) commented to me how especially energizing it is to hear new perspectives and to see how excited newcomers get when they discover how educational a tweetchat can be.

If you are in healthcare marketing or involved with sales to healthcare organizations, I would really encourage you to join the conversations happening on social media. It doesn’t matter the social platform you choose – just pick one and dive in. Not only will you take your healthcare conference experience up a notch, but you as well as your organization will benefit through the connections you make.

See you on Twitter.

Health IT Predictions for #HIMSS17

Posted on January 25, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

My fellow HIMSS Social Media Ambassador, Dr. Geeta Nayyar, has a great post up with various HIMSS 2017 social media ambassadors making predictions at the hot topics we’ll hear about at HIMSS 2017 and throughout the year. I was happy to take part and offered the following prediction:

“Actionable data and patient empowerment are two hot topics at HIMSS this year. We’re going to see a whole slew of applications that take data from clinical decision support at the point of care or real-time analytics that assesses a patients’ risk, and make it actionable. Patient empowerment is going to be enhanced with applications for self-scheduling, patient communication through text and telemedicine and possibly even the first healthcare chatbots.”

I also was quite interested in Rasu Shrestha‘s prediction:

“This is the year we see the emergence of the ‘learning health system.’ With the advent of machine learning and AI, and with the perfect storm of healthcare related needs and opportunities, we will see a true emergence of intelligent systems that will learn and get better over time.”

The idea of a learning health system is a lot to chew on. That’s a big concept that won’t happen over night. However, there’s so much potential in the concept. I’ll be interested to see what technologies are showcased at HIMSS which will help us get closer to a learning health system. What technologies have you seen are helping us get there?

Geeta has posted a bunch of other predictions from HIMSS social media ambassadors, so take a second to head over to her TopLine MD blog and check them out.

Physician Transparency List

Posted on November 4, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

When social media initially started to become popular, a man named Ed Bennet did this amazing job creating a list of hospitals that were doing things on social media (ie. Facebook and Twitter). It was a really incredible look into how hospitals were approaching Twitter and Facebook. At the time, no one knew what they were doing. We were all trying to figure out. It was a dynamic and fun time, but also a bit scary since we were all shooting from the hip.

Over time, most hospitals have adopted a full social media strategy and have professionals that are quite familiar with the options available. Certainly, there are some that execute their hospital social media strategy better than others, but very few hospitals aren’t active in some way on social media.

In typical Ed fashion, he’s moved on from social media and has now created a Physician Transparency List which highlights the ways hospitals are displaying various physician ratings on their hospital website. I love that he calls it a transparency list since so many organizations are afraid of these physician ratings. So, it takes a bit of bravery to be willing to post the ratings on your hospital website.

So far Ed has 35 hospitals on that list, but I believe over the next 3-4 years we’ll see most hospitals doing some form of physician transparency on their hospital website. It very much feels like social media where it started with a few hospitals and then spread to many more.

The reality is that these physician ratings are going to be available to the public. So, why not put them on your hospital website? At least then you control the experience the user has and you can give them the opportunity to engage with you and your organization. In fact, I think that’s where so many hospitals have done a poor job. It’s one thing to display a rating. It’s a whole other thing to create easy opportunities for patients viewing your physicians’ ratings to engage with your organization. It’s such a missed opportunity for most hospitals.

I look forward to seeing Ed’s list continue to grow. Plus, it will be great to see how hospitals are taking advantage of this opportunity to be transparent and engage with patients.

Nominate Someone to the #HIT100

Posted on July 4, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As has become a July 4th tradition, the healthcare IT social media community comes together to recognize the incredible people on healthcare social media that influence their lives. It’s called the #HIT100 and happens on Twitter with people nominating the people that influence them for good. It’s really simple to participate and a great way to show some gratitude and love for someone you appreciate. Here are the details from the official announcement:

Required hashtags:

(Each nomination should have all of these)

  • #HIT100 or #HIT99 (One or the other is required)
  • #HealthIT (Optional)
  • #HITsm (Optional)

Optional hashtags:

(Please use only one of them so that the analytics have value)

  • #FHIR (Optional)
  • #Interoperability (Optional)
  • #PersonalizedMedicine or #PrecisionMedicine (Optional)
  • #Genomics

Some rules will change this year due to the analytical tools being put in place for the first time:

NOMINATION RULES:

  1. Nominations start
    Friday July 1st 2016 at 6PM and end on Friday July 8th at 6PM
  2. Only one person at a time may be nominated.  Multi-nominations in one tweet will not be counted though they might form part of the analytical information base
  3. Only direct nominations will be counted.  Retweets will not be counted though they may be analyzed for further enjoyment
  4. Favorites will not be counted though they may be analyzed for further entertainment
  5. There will only be one cycle of nominations.  No delegates or super-delegates here
  6. I reserve the judgement to disqualify a nomination that I find suspicious for any reason
  7. You are encouraged to include one of the optional hashtags above so that we can process with analytics to get some statistics about each one of them
  8. You can add a sentiment to the end of the nomination
  9. You must have fun and please follow each other as you discover new members of our community

If that’s too confusing, here are a couple examples. You can copy and then edit as appropriate.

I nominate @ehrandhit to the #HIT100 list – #HealthIT #HITsm #FHIR – Because they curate amazing content!

I nominate @techguy to the #HIT100 list – #HealthIT #HITsm He offers great insights into #PrecisionMedicine

Join in the fun and recognize your favorite people on social media! Happy 4th of July!

HIMSS Social Media Ambassador Debate: FHIR and Patient Focus

Posted on June 8, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

While at HIMSS, I had a chance to do a “debate” with my good friend, partner and fellow HIMSS Social Media Ambassador, Shahid Shah. This was facilitated by Healthcare IT News, and the debate was moderated by Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor of Healthcare Finance. Shahid and I had a good debate on the topics of healthcare interoperability and FHIR. Plus, we talked about the need for healthcare IT companies to focus on the patient and whether they deserve the bad rap they get or not. Enjoy the video debate below:
Read more..

Health IT Software Must Be Meaningful and Pleasurable

Posted on April 27, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One of the most dynamic healthcare CIO’s is Shafiq Rab, MD, MPH, Vice President and CIO at Hackensack UMC. Healthcare Scene was lucky enough to talk with him at the DataMotion Health booth during HIMSS 2016. Dr. Rab talked with us about Hackensack UMC’s approach to healthcare IT innovation. He offered some great insights into how to approach any healthcare IT project, about Hackensack University Medical Center’s “selfie” app, and their efforts to use Direct and FHIR to empower the patient.

I love that Dr. Rab leads off the discussion with the idea that healthcare IT software that they implement must be meaningful and pleasurable. Far too many health IT software miss these important goals. They aren’t very meaningful and they’re definitely not pleasurable.

Dr. Rab’s focus on the patient is also worth highlighting. Health IT would be in a much better place if there was a great focus on the patient along with making health IT software meaningful and pleasurable. Thanks Dr. Rab and DataMotion Health for doing this interview with us.

The Misconceptions of Social Media in Healthcare

Posted on April 18, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today I came across this blog post on the Cisco blog about an employee’s entry into the world of Twitter and social media. She offers a number of great points that are worthy of highlighting:

  • It’s Not Stupid
  • You Don’t Have to Be All-In
  • Twitter is a Great Equalizer
  • You Be You

This is all some great advice. Except I would argue that some parts of Twitter are stupid. However, that’s true of most things of value. There’s a lot of email in this world that is terribly stupid. That doesn’t diminish the value of email.

Although, as I read through the list, I recognized the real problem with social media is that people have the wrong perception of what social media is and how it can benefit them. Sure, social media can be a marketing tool for your company. Social media can be a way for you to broadcast what you eat and when you sleep and when you see a beautiful pink flower. It literally can be anything you want it to be. However, if you don’t want it to be those things, then it won’t be those things.

Twitter is literally what you make of it. If you want it to be about food, then you can follow the kind of people that post about food. If you want to enjoy pictures of flowers, then you can find someone who posts pictures of flowers. However, if those topics don’t interest you, then don’t follow those types of accounts. On just my @techguy account I’m somewhere around 22,696 tweets in and I can only remember 3-4 pictures that included food ever. There might be a flower picture in there somewhere, but it’s likely in the background.

Of course, if you don’t care about healthcare IT, then you probably don’t want to follow me either. I’ve sent a lot of tweets about healthcare IT and had a lot of conversations with people about EHR. The point is that if there’s a topic you enjoy or a topic that’s needed for your work, you’ll find it on social media and on Twitter. Sure, there’s plenty of other junk, but you really won’t see it if you’re following the right people. Plus, if you get the random food picture, I can promise you that it won’t hurt you. In fact, some randomness is part of the fun of Twitter.

So far I’ve really only talked about social media consumption. That’s the beauty of social media as well. There’s no requirement that you ever actually broadcast anything yourself. More and more people are just using social media for content curation and education. They never send a tweet. They don’t know what a retweet or favorite is. They don’t DM. They don’t use hashtags. They just consume the social media others create.

While I think there’s some missed value if all you’re doing is consuming content and not interacting on social media, that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of value available on social media even if all you’re doing is consuming. It can be incredibly valuable. You can learn a lot to help your career. You can learn a lot about people. You can learn a lot about a company or your competitor. There’s so much value that can be obtained through simply consuming information shared on social media.

With that said, the blogger linked at the top of this post is right. Social media is the great equalizer. This is especially true if you’re a nobody at a small company. How many times do you get an audience with the CEO of your company. Probably not very much. However, on social media you have the open opportunity for them to see what you’re doing and you to engage them on topics that matter to you. Much of this can happen naturally. Just be yourself and you’ll be surprised how effective that can be.

Of course, like I’ve always said. Not everyone should do social media, but everyone could benefit from using social media. However, don’t let the misconceptions of what social media “is” deter you from trying it out and seeing where and how it can provide value. You can make it work for you.