Recently I was asked to chair the inaugural Social Media Health Care conference in Sydney. It was great to see a local conference focusing on social media and health – a passion of mine.
The two day event developed by Informa had an excellent range of speakers and these are just a few of the highlights (please note I was only in attendance day one)
- The Ramsey HealthCare presentation – Damon did an excellent job at expressing the breadth of social integration at Ramsey HealthCare. Croakey also reported on this recently in How Ramsey is embedding digital transformation
- Enrico Coiera, Director, Centre for Health Informatics, Aust Institute of Health Innovation UNSW delivered an exceptional presentation on social media in healthcare in Australia. Two take home messages – let’s do it right and not let bureacracy stand in the way, the science behind how social networks influence health behaviours. (fav presentation of the day)
- Fi Bendall of the Bendall’s Group delivered a great summary of Doctor Google and Patient Advocacy – with many years under her belt this woman sure knows her stuff – the presentation was engaging and thoroughly researched.
- There were also a range of additional speakers who delivered excellent presentations too many to mention!
Some of the key takeaways were that health and social media is still at the beginning of the maturity cycle with many organisations still grappling with how to integrate social media into their communication and business model.
There were considerable questions from the floor about areas such as tone of voice in social, regulations and the old chestnut resourcing. Regardless of the concerns in the audience the mood was upbeat and positive about better social integration as we could all see so many possibilities. So it was sobering this week to read via Croakey recently a report regarding the Digital Divide a recent research study from Flinders University that warned of the potential for the digital divide to exacerbate health inequalities. These are some highlights of the report:
Factors that strongly influence digital access and use in low SES persons include:
- The availability of resources such as stable housing, internet access, mobile connection, income, social connections and education.
- Individual attributes such as confidence, self-perceived needs, technological skills and language skills.
- Health status – which may function as either help or hindrance. For instance, poor manual dexterity in elder persons have been known to limit the use of technological devices but, on the other hand, health conditions are powerful motivators of technological learning; in particular those affiliated with internet searching.
- Structure and systems of telecommunications companies in regards to contracts, plans and pre-paid conditions. While most of the population own and benefit from mobile phones, many are unable to afford services like calls and internet use, thereby limiting it as a reliable communications option.
Other facts included:
- Statistics have shown the 28% of all Australian households still do not have access to home internet and nearly half of them fall under the low income category, earning a total of less than $40,000 per year.
- Lack of confidence, skills and resources have been found to impede on the level to which people can benefit from ICTs. Most of the ICT-using participants were self-taught or had learned to do so with the help of friends – indicating social connections to be an important factor for confidence and skills development.
While reports such as these should not deter those active in the space they are a sobering read and highlight areas to take into consideration when embarking down the digital road – We must ensure information and service equality/accessibility stays firmly in mind.