Biking in DC

“I grew up biking in Europe,” the woman said after she cut across four lanes of traffic in downtown DC.

"Alice, I will carry you inside of me, always - Mommy" written on a bicycle tire as a memorial to Alice Swanson, killed by a truck in DC.

"Alice, I will carry you inside of me, always - Mommy." A memorial to Alice Swanson, a bicyclist killed by a truck in DC. Photo by Ted Eytan.

I had caught up to her at a red light to tell her that she was lucky — cars had slammed on their brakes, some right next to me as I carefully pedaled in the narrow strip between the curb and the flow of traffic. At least she was wearing a helmet, which is not true of other bicyclists who have also assured me they “grew up biking in Europe.”

“But this is DC!” I called after her as she maneuvered into traffic again. The people around us may have grown up driving in Europe, but also in Africa or Asia or North America.

As a daily bike commuter, it is an exceptional day if I don’t feel threatened by a bus, truck, or car. And I never fail to see risky behavior by my fellow bikers.

So I decided to gather some data. Continue reading

How I choose which conferences to attend

I wrote this as a comment last year in response to a question about why Medicine X was so magical. I’m elevating it to a post thanks to encouragement from E-patient Dave and because I’d love to hear from other people about how they choose events to attend.

5 criteria I consider when I receive an invitation to a conference:

1) Organizer — is it an individual or an organization? Do I know them? Do they include patients and caregivers in their plans, such as on their program committee? Do I like them — ie, would they pass the “have a beer with them” test? I consider the personality of the event to be a reflection of the host(s). It is my #1 consideration since everything follows from whether I trust the organizer(s). Continue reading

Just the way you are

Who is an elite athlete? All of them.Olympic athletesThere are a dozen photos like this, captured in a book by Howard Schatz and Beverly Ornstein, which caught my eye thanks to this tweet:

The line-up — even visual assault — of so many differently shaped bodies reminded me of a six-page feature that ran in Might magazine back in 1994 called “Your Body is Wrong.”  I loved it so much that I saved my copy. Continue reading

“What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes…”

Statue of Winston Churchill in Washington, DC“…and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?” – Winston Churchill.

I bike past this statue every day on the way to and from work and stopped the other day to read the plaque. One foot is on U.S. soil, the other on the grounds of the British Embassy. Check out his Wikiquote page for more inspiration on the eve of a very British Olympics.

For some people, it’s still 1994

Here’s a question which inspired me today, received via email from Christie Silbajoris,  director of NC Health Info:

My library is rethinking its provision of services to the public.  We’ve got a history of going beyond what the average academic health sciences library provides in this area but in this age of budget cuts (and in consideration of other factors) we’re taking another look to see if there is something we should be doing that would be more meaningful and helpful to the NC citizens.  I’m most interested in the explosion of peer-to-peer health care and mobile information and think we might be able to make an impact in these areas. Do you have any thoughts about possible roles that academic health sciences libraries could play?

My response:

I sure do, but they are only ideas, inspired by what I’m observing, so take them as such. Continue reading

Peer-to-peer Healthcare at Medicine 2.0–Susannah Fox

I was honored to give the closing keynote at the Medicine 2.0’11 Congress at Stanford. In preparation for it, I gathered all of the Pew Internet Project’s recent research on social networks, smartphones, and health communications. Then I added stories from the front lines, which turned out to be mostly about moms, the power users of both social tools and health care.

Here is what I said (or meant to say – you know how that goes) annotated with links to source material:

We have been on a journey together for the past few days. We will leave knowing that we are part of a community. We have people we can turn to when we have questions.

That spark of recognition that you felt when you met a new colleague this weekend is the same spark that patients and caregivers feel when they meet someone with the same condition or concern.

Listen to this story shared by Julie Keon, the mom of a seven-year-old with cerebral palsy. She was comforting her daughter in the waiting room at her local Children’s Hospital when she sensed someone staring from across the waiting room. She ignored them until she saw it was a mom, holding a baby. Continue reading

The Social Life of Health Information, 2011–Susannah Fox

Here it is: my 2010-11 yearbook! Will you sign it?

That’s how I feel about this latest report from the Pew Internet Project and the California HealthCare Foundation: “The Social Life of Health Information, 2011.”  It contains all the insights we’ve gathered over the last year on mobile health, the health information divide, and peer-to-peer healthcare. It also contains updates on social media use in health and a few new activities. If you’re going to read just one of our reports, this is the one.

Here are some new data points:

–       1 in 4 internet users have watched an online video about health.

–       1 in 4 internet users have tracked their weight, diet, exercise routine or other health indicator online.

–       1 in 4 internet users have consulted online reviews of drugs or medical treatments (but very few post such reviews). Continue reading

Map the frontier. Bring data. (More coming soon!)–Susannah Fox

The Pew Internet Project and California HealthCare Foundation will released our latest report on the internet’s impact on health and health care tonight at midnight (Eastern U.S. time). It is titled, “The Social Life of Health Information, 2011” (and for those following closely, that is a hint that we are updating trends we first measured in our 2009 report by the same name).

The report contains some data I have been itching to share with this community for months. In fact, I couldn’t resist previewing a bit of it at Mobile Health 2011 last week. Here’s the text of what I said, just to whet your appetite for the full course of fresh data:

The Web 2.0 Summit backdrop last fall was an imaginary map of the online world and the territories that have been claimed by different companies.

Mark Zuckerberg came on stage and said,

Your map is wrong. The biggest part of the map has got to be uncharted territory. This map makes it seem like it’s zero-sum, but it’s not. We’re building value, not just taking it away from other companies. Continue reading

A Health Information Divide–Susannah Fox

This post is first and foremost a thank-you note.

Thank you to everyone who posted a comment, emailed me, or tweeted a suggestion in response to my request for input last July: Crowdsourcing a Survey. Six new topics came directly from those conversations. Thank you to Veenu Aulakh and the California HealthCare Foundation who provided funding for the survey. Thank you to Lee Rainie, Kristen Purcell, and Kathryn Zickuhr, my colleagues at the Pew Internet Project who helped mine and polish up the data for the final report: Health Topics.

Here is what we found: There is a health information divide. Pregnancy and childbirth seem to cut across it. Mobile may change it in the future. But for now, significant portions of the adult population do not have access to up-to-date information on drug recalls, food safety, or treatment options. Continue reading