Use of Social Media in Health Care

I participated in the conference ”Sociala Medier i sjukvården – så funkar det!” (in English: ”Use of Social Media in Health Care – this is how it works!”) today in Malmö. The conference was arranged by Dagens Medicin (a news magazine in the health care sector, roughly translated into ”Today’s Medicine” in Englsih) and K-Street Advisors.

A very interesting, and hot, topic. I still find it somewhat funny that I get invited as a speaker to conferences on Social Media. I often declare that ”I do not know anything about Social Media actually, I am just a very happy user of these new opportunities!”. But I take it as a strong sign of the lack of experience regarding social media in the health care sector, and the opportunities for great improvements, that I am being viewed as an expert… I have written about social media usage here at the blog previously, see for instance the blog post from Nov 24 last year.

So what did we talk about today? Theo Martins and Pelle Sjöqvist, both from K-Street Advisors, started in the morning as well as closed the conference in the afternoon talking about general aspects around the use of social media.

Theo Martins, K-Street Advisors

Theo Martins, K-Street Advisors

Pelle Sjöqvist, K-Street Advisors

Pelle Sjöqvist, K-Street Advisors

Topics discussed were e.g. what social media is, how it works, how to get started, the difference between social media and other types of communication channels, and how social media could cause a crises or be used to manage a crisis. Pelle gave us also examples of usage of social media in the health care sector, or usages that affects us working in the sector, that he feels are worth exploring, e.g.

- Vårdguiden on Facebook

- Sä by SLL (Stockholm County Council)

- Luskartan by Kronans Droghandel

- (where a lot of very strange, scary, and probably false discussions also about the health care sector can be found)

- Mayo Clinic

- Patients-like-me

I would of course also add More-than-medication and Can-You-Feel-My-Pain, but more on that later…

Presentations on use of social media ”from inside the health care sector” were given by

- Sara Natt och Dag who have met several patients telling about their diseases in the blogosphere in her profession as counselor. Very often these blogs are very open and honest. She has written several books about the phenomenon as such, and about the people she has met.

- Anna Jerdén, head of communication, Sörmland County Coucil, on their use of social media ”for defence purposes” during a media crisis.

- Jens Larsson, General Counsel at the Uppsala County Council, about the legal issues around social media use, especially if you are a governmental official. My conclusion from his presentation would be that it is still a tricky area, still a lot of unanswered questions. But a guiding principle is of course that ”use your common sense”. All the old privacy rules etc do of course apply also in these new communication channels!

- Mats Reimer, pediatrician from Mölnlycke, shared his experiences from being one of our most famous ”blog doctors” in Sweden. Follow his blog on the webpage of Dagens Medicin.

Mats Reimer, pediatrician

Mats Reimer, pediatrician

- And then finally me talking about this blog (, about the Dizza Tobak platform, and the Can-You-Feel-My-Pain initiative.

I talk about social media

I talk about social media

As you probably understand I do not think social media is something ”completely new and different”. To me it is just a new communication tool. Much faster and more powerful than anything we have seen before, but still something where a lot of our old rules and strategies still apply. You have to know what you want to do, you have to understand your target group, you need to carefully plan your launch of a new site or platform, you have to do a risk assessment before launch etc. etc. Just remember that everything goes faster and that you will not have full control of how things develop and evolve on the Internet… But the opportunities are so great that those risks are worth taking.

I used Dizza Tobak as an example of the possibilities to share information and experiences, or in this case uploaded anti-tobacco contributions, with the entire world in a rapid and almost for free. If you have followed me on the blog previously you know that Dizza Tobak is a project that we run together with SAMBA and A Non Smoking Generation with the purpose of eliminating tobacco usage. Some of my favourite contributions this year are:

- Love this way to die?

- Svart sot och död

- Kriget mot tobak

and of course still the Flash Mob at the Central Station last year protesting to the fact that 18 people die from tobacco each and every day in Sweden…

I also presented the Can-You-Feel-My-Pain (CYFMP) initiative where we in collaboration with, among others, Patient Advocacy Groups from all over Europe have utilized a number of different social media platforms in order to raise public awareness of chronic pain. Take part of the initiative through the following links:

- CYFMP on Facebook

- CYFMP on Twitter

- CYFMP on Flickr

- CYFMP on Twibbon

A good conference with interesting discussions on a hot topic. I am sure the use of social media in health care (and elsewhere of course) will explode for the simple reason that the opportunities are so great. But just remember that there are risks of course – but in my opinion those risks are definitely manageable.






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