Persistence vs. flow

The Pew Research Center has released its latest report celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Web. This one looks forward to 2025, with experts’ predictions. Here’s my favorite quote so far, from the “Pithy Additions” section:

Jerry Michalski, founder of REX, the Relationship Economy eXpedition, observed, “The Internet gives us Persistence — the ability to leave things for one another in cyberspace, freely. This is a big deal we haven’t yet comprehended. Right now, we are obsessed with flow, with the immediate, with the evanescent. Persistence lets us collaborate for the long term, which is what we’ll slowly learn to do … We will begin to design institutions from a basis of trust of the average person, instead of mistrust, the way we’ve been designing for a few centuries. This will let us build very different institutions for learning, culture, creativity, and more.”

I think this has implications for health communications, such as when we post information online that we hope will persist and be used as the basis for future decisions. The “flip the clinic” movement is part of this — the acknowledgement that a doctor’s appointment is just one opportunity to reach someone with health advice. Continue reading

3 big trends: networks, unbundling, smartphones

Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist, gave a talk at Le Web that touches on health, but even better, provides a framework for thinking about how technology is transforming the world in general:

Pew Research has data to back up each of his points on mobile, video, dating, social networking, news gathering, education, our networked lives in general, etc.

If you want to hear specifically about what he sees coming in the health space, skip to minute 20, when he says, ”Health and wellness is what keeps you out of the health care system.”

If you want another shortcut, DataFox published a very good summary of the talk. You might also enjoy the lively discussion on AVC, Fred’s own blog.

Here’s my comment:

Fred is spot on when he talks about the huge potential for tracking our own health — 7 in 10 U.S. adults do so now (source: Pew Research Center). The hitch is that half do so “in their heads,” one-third with paper and pencil, one-fifth using any kind of tech. Most people are not yet convinced that an app or device will help them.

I also agree that networks are going to revolutionize health (if not health care, eventually) but I’m personally more interested in peer-to-peer networks among patients and caregivers (esp. parents of kids with rare diseases) than those developing networks for clinicians. In this, I’m following the swarm — the many, many people who are connecting online to get answers, or even better, to improve their questions. HumanDx should consider adding expert patients to their roster of “experts.”

How would you like your data today?

After a very full year of writing reports, giving speeches, and number-checking infographics, I’m left wondering: What’s the most effective way to deliver insights? How can I better serve you?

To paraphrase Dr. Seuss: Do you like the data in a table? In a tweet? In a speech? Do you like the numbers in a box? Do you like them with a fox? (Couldn’t resist.) Would you like them here or there? Would you like them anywhere?

Do you like them here or there? A page from Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss

How do you hear about new research? Do you tune in right away, when it’s first published, or later? What format do you find useful — tweets, slides, videos, infographics, fact sheets, reports? How about these blog posts I write and the conversations that ensue? What do you find valuable? Continue reading

A field guide to The Diagnosis Difference

The Pew Research Center released a report today on people living with chronic conditions: The Diagnosis Difference.

Policy makers, patient advocates, entrepreneurs, investors, clinicians — all health care stakeholders — can use the data to map the current landscape. There are still barren patches, where people remain offline and cut off from the resources and tools. But there are lush valleys, too, where engagement and change is happening.

I see e-patients as the guides to those valleys since unless you are living with chronic conditions — or love someone who is — you don’t see that side of the internet. So here’s my request: provide your evidence. Show what you have learned. Continue reading

Mobile, social, health, care

Two people holding hands at the mouth of a tunnel. Uploaded by Adam Foster on flickrA clinical trial in Kenya confirmed that human kindness is the secret ingredient to health and mobile phones are an ideal delivery system. Well, that’s my interpretation.

Here’s the gist:

Taking your meds is essential to maintaining your health when you live with a chronic condition. People know this, but they need help doing it. They tend to tune out reminders — constant texts become more of a nag than a boost, studies show. Instead, people respond to empathy — in this study, a single word, texted once a week: “Mambo?” which means “How are you?” People who texted back that they were not feeling well received follow-up phone calls to see if clinicians could help them get back on track. Continue reading

How do we know that social media is important to health care?

Update: the videos are up — thanks, @EinsteinMed!

On Friday, I spoke at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, along with Kevin Pho, MD. During a planning call, the symposium organizers had shared results from a faculty survey: Fully two-thirds do not use social tools on a regular basis. Asking them, therefore, to spend a half-day learning about social media was a pretty bold request.

Inspired by Kathy Sierra to focus on the users’ (that is, the audience’s) needs, I began with a question that many busy clinicians might be asking:

How do we know that social media is important to health care?

Why should they take anyone’s word for it? Where is the evidence? Continue reading

Data collection and connection

Health 2.0 featured a panel devoted to the “new environment for better health care decisions.” I shared some new findings and I’d love to hear what you think:

[Update: the video of my talk is now online.]

Where I work, at the Pew Research Center, we use data to hold up a mirror to society so you can see yourselves clearly. We don’t tell you what to do about your reflection. We just want you to see yourself as you really are.

A crowd of people reflected in a mirror

We also provide a window into other people’s lives, which may be very different from your own. We survey in 60 countries and on a wide range of topics so people can make informed decisions, based on data. We are huge fans of reality-based decision-making and I hope you are too.

In our health research, we visit other kinds of nations. Continue reading

The unmentionables of health care

I plan to write more about my field trip to the future California, but for now here is the Storify I created about one incredible panel: Unmentionables 2013 at Health 2.0 Santa Clara.
Arrows connect Give and Take; a bracket shows that Care encompasses both.

By Jessica Hagy of

The new environment for health care decisions

“The tools are in place. The culture is shifting to expect that people have access to information and each other. There is mounting evidence that connecting patients with each other and with their data can have a positive effect on health outcomes…”

- Health Care Hackers

I’ll speak today at Health 2.0 Santa Clara about the new environment for health care decisions. The slides are up on the Pew Internet site — a bare-bones representation of my remarks, but maybe intriguing since they contain a sneak preview of an upcoming report about people living with chronic conditions.

Osasuna, Salud, Health 2.0

I will speak on Monday in Bilbao at an event with 3 names but one goal: to understand how to use social media to innovate and improve health, with a special focus on evidence and the future. I’m looking forward to learning from my hosts and listening to two beautiful languages. Continue reading