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Facebook in Healthcare

Posted on October 6, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

A story on Reuters reported late last week that Facebook is making an entry into the healthcare space. Here’s an excerpt from the article about Facebook’s plans for healthcare:

The company is exploring creating online “support communities” that would connect Facebook users suffering from various ailments. A small team is also considering new “preventative care” applications that would help people improve their lifestyles.

In recent months, the sources said, the social networking giant has been holding meetings with medical industry experts and entrepreneurs, and is setting up a research and development unit to test new health apps. Facebook is still in the idea-gathering stage, the people said.

This move is especially interesting when paired with the announcements of Apple Health, Samsung Health, and Google Fit (and a few other Google health initiatives like Calico). It’s not the first time that big corporations have seen an opportunity in healthcare (See Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health). However, we have yet to see any of these big corporations really make a dent on healthcare.

The reality for many of these large corporations is that they don’t realize the crazy complexities that exist in healthcare. Many like to site the healthcare privacy argument as a reason for their failure. No doubt, HIPAA and privacy are a challenge for these organizations. In fact, I can already hear the outcry of people talking about Facebook and privacy of their health data. Many don’t trust Facebook with privacy and with good reason. However, privacy is the least of the reasons why these big corporations have a challenge entering the healthcare space.

Remember that healthcare is a complex beast with the largest customer being the government (ie. Medicare and Medicaid). Healthcare is not a rational market. The government, employer owned health insurance, health insurance plans, etc etc etc all make healthcare extremely complex to navigate full of perverse incentives. Plus, how do you do an ROI on the value of saving someone’s life?

While I’m skeptical of any large corporation entering healthcare, I’m actually quite interested in what Facebook could do to help healthcare. No doubt, a lot of healthcare already exists on Facebook.

Just a few weeks ago I was running up an escalator to catch a flight and sliced my big toe from top to bottom (you should see the pics). Luckily TSA was really helpful and I made my flight. Once I got home, I assessed the damage and wasn’t sure if I should go get sutures or not. I turned to Facebook where I posted a picture of my toe and tagged a few of my doctor friends. Long story short, my doctor friends told me I should go to the doctor and quickly, because if I waited until the next day they wouldn’t be able to suture it.

This is a small example, but Facebook was really effective for me. In fact, I posted a follow up picture a few days later (you know how men always like to show off their scars) and a doctor friend told me it was healing well. Of course, many might say that it was a small flesh wound and so that’s not as big a deal to post on Facebook. Would I post me health details if I had some chronic condition?

The interesting thing is that chronic patients are more than happy to give up all privacy in search of a cure. Unfortunately, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s part of the reason why Patients Like Me has been so successful. Plus, Patients Like Me has proved that we want to take part in online support communities for our conditions.

We’ll see if Facebook can really execute on online support communities like they have on Patients Like Me. It will be a real challenge for them because it’s not the focus of the company. However, they’re obviously well connected to a lot of people that could and would benefit from these types of healthcare communities. No doubt many people on Facebook don’t visit or even know about sites like Patients Like Me.

I’ll be interested to see what Facebook does in this space. I think they’d be smart to roll it off into a separate product that focuses on things like privacy and security. Being tied to the Facebook brand is a huge liability in this case. Plus, the value of Facebook to a Facebook created healthcare community is not in the Facebook brand, but in the Facebook audience and reach.

Besides creating various healthcare communities similar to Patients Like Me, I think Facebook has a huge opportunity to use social pressure to influence healthcare decisions. Changing behavior is an extremely hard thing to accomplish. However, never underestimate the power of positive peer pressure. Peer pressure can be one of the most powerful ways to change people’s behavior. Unfortunately, it works for good and bad. Facebook has all of your peers mapped to you. Can Facebook use that to help you become healthier? If they can, they’ll be on to something.

What do you think of Facebook possibly entering healthcare?

Social Networking Your Way to Better Healthcare Business Relationships

Posted on November 6, 2012 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

With everyone walking around with a smartphone or tablet, tweeting, updating, posting, sharing quite possibly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the time has never been better – it’s never been easier – to jump into social networking. And looking at it from the healthcare perspective, there has never been a better time to share ideas, give opinions, pontificate, or sound off on the variety of healthcare issues we have to talk about today.

The opportunity is better than ever to create thought leadership by starting or joining in online conversations, and personal branding is easier than ever before in terms of tools available to help you spread your message and increase your exposure.

So with that being said, I’ll share a bit of my story as to how I’ve used social networking to create a personal brand, and open myself up to opportunities and business relationships that I might otherwise not have been exposed to.

My favorite social network is Twitter. I like it because it’s quick – 140 characters seems to be about my limit. I was very late to the Facebook party, and got on it only because at the time I couldn’t manage a brand page without a personal account. I still think Facebook can be a major time waster, and so I use it only to share news of my family with other family members and close friends.

Anyhow, my Twitter addiction really started during my second maternity leave. I spent a lot of time in a rocking chair, figuring out how to keep up with my professional colleagues while I was out of the corporate loop. I began to gain a small following, began doing the mommy blog thing, and went to a networking event or to just to keep myself relevant.

When I went back to working full time, my boss was gracious enough to go with my idea of using Twitter as part of our B2B healthcare marketing program. And this is where my brief story gets somewhat tangled, because at this point, my personal and professional social networking became very intertwined. I had my personal Twitter account, two business accounts, two Facebook pages, and personal and corporate LinkedIn accounts to manage.

At first I was what you’d consider a lurker. I hung out on Twitter and in various LinkedIn healthcare groups just to see how they worked, what the rules of etiquette were. Then as I got more confident in my knowledge of the industry, I began participating – posting comments, responding to people’s tweets, hoping that I sounded knowledgeable. And my following continued to grow. I began noticing that as I started sharing more healthcare-related content, more healthcare-related folks started following me.

I have a journalism degree from the University of Georgia, so I was creating blogs and articles for Porter Research and Billian’s HealthDATA, and sharing them out through my professional and personal social accounts, which also gave me some street cred. Eventually, I had unsolicited offers to blog for EMRandEHR.com. I jumped on that because it lets me flex my writing muscles, and reach an audience I might not otherwise get in front of. My activity, and especially my consistency within healthcare social networking continues to open up opportunities for me.

Now, all this wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t love what I’m doing. I love the opportunity social networking affords me to educate myself about healthcare, and especially to turn online relationships into real-life encounters.

So, as I mentioned, I have a favorite social network, and I believe one of the keys to successful social networking is using the platform that best aligns with your goals and desired audience – the social network that suits your tastes. Start with one that best suits you, your goals and the audience you’re trying to reach. Whether you’re just trying to educate yourself about a certain part of your industry, looking to connect with peers and other thought leaders, or perhaps even looking for new opportunities, make sure the social network lines up with your objectives. Start small, be consistent in your approach and in the folks you correspond with.  You’ll notice your personal brand evolving, almost organically.

EMR Notes, EMR Data Visualization, Amazon EC2, and Amazing Facebook EMR Integration

Posted on October 21, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

It’s time again for a roundup of interesting EMR tweets. The last one is a doozy and an amazing reason to keep up on Twitter (or at least read this site…We follow tweets so you don’t have to!).


This is a sad thing to say about EMR notes. Although, I think that this tweet is a small part of a larger “revolt” against many of the cookie cutter, little value notes that are produced by many EMR software. Change is afoot in this regard, but it will take some time to get there.


I love when a company takes on EMR data visualization. We need to discover much better, more efficient ways for healthcare practitioners to be able to process increasing amounts of health data. I hope that Restful Health is successful. Plus, they’re right that doing it from multiple health data sources is much harder.


Is Amazon EC2 HIPAA compliant? I can think of some ways to get it there, but they require a whole lot of encryption to make it happen. I expect most don’t go to this effort. Thoughts?


This was a fascinating tweet for me. Far too many people mention Facebook and EMR or PHR and start to freak out. What an amazing idea to use Facebook and other social or web sources to inform the care that’s provided to a patient. I’m sure that many people will hop all over this talking about privacy issues, but I’d rather deal with those issues than deal with a patient that’s lying is causing them not to get the care they need. I wonder what other ways the web and social media could inform patient care.

What the EMR Industry Can Learn From Facebook

Posted on April 9, 2012 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

A couple of interesting posts on RangelMD.com caught my eye (one of them by way of KevinMD, but I’ve learned to go to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, for everything I read on KevinMD). In his first post on a Facebook model for EMR, Chris Rangel takes us through a generic history of the Internet – right from the days when you had to manually connect to a server through the green-on-black Bulletin Board Services and modem in order to access any information. Apparently servers were not connected to one another and you had to hangup the connection in order to server hop.

(If I sound clueless about this, well, I grew up in India where circa 1995, some kind of UNIX based primitive mail system was all the rage, and since my friends and I didn’t really know anyone outside our immediate circles who had access to “electronic mail”, our forays consisted of sitting in adjacent terminals and mailing each other funny jokes.)

And then came the evolution of HTML and dynamic server content, and so on, till we finally reached the clouds, literally. Ours is an age where most of the information we use resides on a server somewhere and the mode of accessing them is through apps or browsers.

Using Facebook as an example, Rangel explains why we would want our EMR systems to work the same way – our health records should be automatically pushed down to a server every time we have a healthcare encounter. For physicians or pharmacists, all they would need to do is to access our information through a browser or an app on a tablet. In theory, this should make for more efficient healthcare encounters, higher sharing of information, and easy switches from one doctor’s office or facility to another.

Healthcare utopia, no? No. At least not yet.

We have so much more work to do before communication between health silos in various doc offices, hospitals, pharmacies, labs etc is truly functional. If 90s style browser wars (where did Netscape go?) and the social networking wars (FB, MySpace, Diapsora, Hot or Not) are anything to go by, the winner of the healthcare battles may not be the one or two well-known entities that dominate the market today, but disruptive companies that are currently developing something we deem frivolous now, but which may hold the key to our digihealth future.

Social Media

Posted on October 27, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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 most of you realize, I’m a huge fan of social media. Certainly social media isn’t without its risks, but that’s true about almost everything in life. I’ve found if you stick to doing and saying things that you would do in public, then you don’t have to fear social media. Instead, you can embrace all the benefits.

One of the biggest challenges we know face with social media is which social media you should use. There are far too many social media sites. In fact, it seems like almost any site that comes out today has some element of social in it. On that note, which social media websites should you use? The answer is different for everyone, but here’s how I use social media.

Twitter – I put this one first, because I think it’s the one that I use most. You can find my healthcare IT tweets on @techguy and @ehrandhit. I’m very active on both accounts. I use @techguy for lots of things that are not EMR or health IT related. The way I look at it is that @techguy is me and @ehrandhit is my EMR and Healthcare IT Twitter profile. Although, many of my EMR and healthcare IT friends/colleagues know me as @techguy. That’s fine with me as well.

The thing I like most about Twitter is the people you connect with on it. Sure, if you look through my stream you’ll see me interacting with a lot of people. Turns out I interact with even more through the private messages. Plus, Twitter is where I start a lot of relationships which then get taken to other means of communication that go beyond 140 characters.

Before I leave Twitter, just remember that Twitter is what you make it. If you want it to be about every time you eat something, then it will be that. If you want it to be something more, it can be that too. I see Twitter as a long term investment in networking. I can’t tell you how valuable it is.

LinkedIn – You can find my profile on LinkedIn here. However, if you think that LinkedIn is about those profiles, then you’re missing out on the best part of LinkedIn. Those profiles are an important feature of LinkedIn, but far from the meat of what’s great. In fact, when LinkedIn was just profiles you could barely consider it a social network. Back then it really was all about finding a job, hiring people and other recruiting related tasks. If it was still that way, I’d almost never visit LinkedIn.

Turns out, LinkedIn has done an amazing job at leveraging these trusted profiles into a really interesting professional social network. I know that many of you are part of the Healthcare Scene group on LinkedIn. My only wish was that I started it sooner. The thing I love most about the groups on LinkedIn is that any comments you add are tied to your profile. So, when you say something I can take a quick look at your background to gain a better understanding of your point of view. We’re all influenced by our background and experience and so it’s great to have a LinkedIn profile tied to what you say so people can understand some of what’s influenced you.

Facebook – I actually love Facebook and use it quite extensively. Although, I don’t use it that much for business. Sure we have an EMR and HIPAA facebook group that does quite well. In fact, it indicates that I might be in the minority as far as not really using Facebook for business since so many people use that group. I do love Facebook for connecting with friends and family that are now all over the world. That’s why I stick with it for personal instead of business, but business does creep on there sometimes.

Google+ – I’m still debating my use of Google Plus. If you look at my profile you’ll see that I tested it out a lot out of the gate and then have slowed more recently in my use of it. I still think it has potential. I also love the deep conversations you can have on Google Plus. My challenge with Google Plus has been trying to figure out what it does that I can’t do just as well or better with Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Facebook. I’ll keep playing around with it, but I’m not sure it will ever make it into my daily routine.

There you go. As I think about other social network sites I use, I don’t have any others that I really use regularly. Are there any others that you use regularly? I’m always interested in trying out new websites, but I have a feeling it will be hard for any other websites to take down these in my routine. I guess that’s why I think it’s a challenge for any new healthcare related website to crack into someone’s schedule. The one that does will take something special.

EHR Question and Answer Video: EMR Data Sharing

Posted on May 26, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Yesterday I started testing out a new idea where I’d film some original EMR and EHR videos where I answer questions about healthcare IT and EMR that people have sent to me. I’ll post the first video here and possibly another one this weekend. Then, I’ll probably start posting the videos on my new EMR and EHR video website. Although, I may do some updates with links to the latest videos that are posted.

It’s a low budget production as you can imagine. I also was streaming it live on the internet, so you’ll see me look down a number of times to check how many were viewing it live. Those things aside, hopefully you’ll find the content of the video interesting and useful.

This first video tries to answer the question:
Does the EMR allow data sharing with the patient’s PHR and/or Social Net account(s)?

As always, I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the subject as well. Was there anything I missed? Was I wrong about anything? What else is important about EMR data sharing? Should we be able to share our EMR data with social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc?

Also, if you have other questions you’d like me to answer in a future video, be sure to leave a comment or let me know on the contact us page.

Healthcare Social Media Explained in Pee

Posted on March 17, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

I usually don’t like to do two funny posts in a row (see the Meaningful Use Rap that Katherine posted), but I couldn’t resist. When I saw this it was too funny. I also considered whether it was ok for a very serious blog like EMR and EHR to post about Pee. Although, I figured this is healthcare where most are more familiar with pee than the rest of the world. Even though I’ll never forget the labor nurse with my first child calling it “she she.” We still call it that in our home.

Regardless, if you’re looking for a way to explain all the various social media platforms, here’s an interesting way to look at it (Source: vanished-omen):

IBM Medical Social Network – Patient Portal

Posted on March 15, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

I found an interesting article on Fast Company talking about the Facebook for Patients. Of course, I’m a sucker for anything that says Facebook and patients, so I had to check it out.

Turns out the article talks about a new Medical Social Network from IBM. Officially it’s being called the IBM Patient Empowerment System. From the description, it’s an interesting mix of PHR functions where you record your health information, patient to patient interaction like PatientsLikeMe, patient to doctor interaction, and even FDA alerts and drug checking.

Of course, I wanted to try this IBM patient empowerment system out myself, but the article didn’t have a link to it. So, I headed to Google and found no website, but the first result was this video about the IBM PHR along with some press releases:

Pretty hard to judge a system if you can’t use it. Plus, it’s hard to interact with other patients if patients can’t find the portal.

I suspect that the reason I can’t find the portal is that it seems like they’re doing a beta test of the website with Gacheon University Gil Hospital in Korea. It doesn’t seem like they’ve opened up the system to everyone yet. It will be interesting to see if they continue to do a partner based approach for rolling out the IBM PHR or if they choose to open it up to anyone and everyone that wants to join.

I’d say the most controversial part of what they’re doing is probably the FDA alerts and drug checking. This tweet by Neil Versel, blogger at Meaningful Health IT news, describes why these types of alerts and information is going to require a change:

The challenge to doctors is whether IBM does it or someone else, the empowered patient is already happening. IBM’s Facebook for Patients is just one piece in the puzzle.

Could Amazon or Facebook Build A Better EMR?

Posted on February 18, 2011 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @annezieger on Twitter.

As we all know, few EMRs are a breeze to use.  In fact, many have such awkward, counterintuitive UIs that they ought to be thrown back into the pond.

On the other hand, superstar consumer apps like Facebook and Amazon have hooked people by the millions with intuitive, logical interface designs that simply addict users.  (And let’s not forget Apple, whose gift for consumer design has vaulted it from has-been to trend setter for the world.)

One CIO, Dale Sanders of the Cayman Island Health Authority, has taken these  examples and run with them, making what seems like a very strong argument in favor of the these giants’ approach:

In Facebook, we have a perfect framework for longitudinal documentation, collaboration, messaging, and scheduling between a patient and members of their entire care team, including family and friends.

We also have a framework for easily integrating data from other sources to enhance the value to the patient’s healthcare – there’s no equivalent of HL7 interchange going on in Facebook.  It references data located in other sources and systems. Can you imagine Facebook surviving if it required itself to house all the data that it presents?  Facebook takes great advantage of referencing and pointing to data in the source systems.

In Amazon, we have a perfect and familiar metaphor for ordering tests and procedures; tracking them; assessing their costs; rating them and seeing how other clinicians rated those orderables and referrals; and adjusting orders based on the behaviors and ratings of other clinicians, etc.

What makes his thoughts more interesting is that he actually marks up screenshots of key Amazon and Facebook pages, commenting directly on aspects he thinks EMR vendors could adopt.  It’s a thought-provoking exercise:  I recommend you check it out.