False boundaries in health care

Clayton Christensen gave a talk at last week’s SMARTHealthIT board meeting on, as he put it, how people think. I was absorbed by his storytelling, so only wrote down a few concepts:

  • We make assumptions based on false correlations (and we should guard against that tendency).
  • Data and maps are verbs, not nouns, and they never tell the complete truth. Something is always omitted in a data set or on a map.
  • Watch out for false boundaries. For example, why is there a boundary between undergraduate education and the working world? What if there were no boundary? How would universities change?
  • If you bow down to the frames of existing aggregates (such as an org chart or a database), you may miss the signal that a single person or piece of data is screaming out to you. We miss so much insight this way.

During Q&A, I observed that a false boundary in health care is that which supposedly defines “home” vs. “clinical” care, when in fact it is all part of one system. I was also thinking to myself that patients and caregivers are screaming out to be heard but aren’t on the official health care org chart — or are way at the bottom. Continue reading

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

Flip it

Regina Holliday's painting for the Families USA conferenceFamilies USA invited me to talk this morning about the intersection of health care, social media, and digital strategy, along with Regina Holliday and Larry Swiader.

I decided to flip the presentation and start the conversation a week in advance, on Twitter, and post my slides publicly. If you’re not familiar with the idea of flip teaching, here’s the Wikipedia page. Essentially, the person formerly known as the teacher becomes a convener/expert guide and the people formerly known as the students become peer educators. In health care, there is growing interest in flipping the clinic — providing information ahead of time to patients and caregivers so they can prepare, letting them help set the agenda of a doctor’s appointment, etc.

Here’s where it gets a little meta, even a little sneaky. My job is to do excellent research and then, equally important, get the Pew Research Center’s data into the public conversation. By flipping the presentation, I reached many more people than will be in the room today, listening to me talk in person. I also kind of tricked my friends on Twitter into doing a big portion of my work for me — finding examples of social media use in health care. But I don’t think they mind. A lot of people thanked me for letting them know that Pew Research has new data on the demographics of social media platforms. And my slides have already been viewed over 1,200 times on Slideshare. Our ideas are spreading faster than any of us could travel.

So: what do you think? What else can we flip?