The Centre for Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease at the University of Sydney held a symposium last week on the use of mobile, social media and Web technologies in healthcare delivery and health communications.
I noticed that Carolyn Der Vartanian, a researcher and active member of the Health Care and Social Media in Australia and New Zealand twitter chat group, was tweeting from the symposium, and asked if she would mind also writing about it for Croakey readers.
Her report, below, also cites tweets from other #hcsmanz and Croakey contributors.
Meanwhile, those with an interest in this burgeoning field will have a chance to hear from one of its international pioneers at a Sax Institute forum in Sydney on November 9. Lee Aase is director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media (which this week held a Social Media Summit).
According to the Sax forum blurb, the Mayo centre is committed to using social media’s “revolutionary tools to spread knowledge and encourage collaboration among providers, improving health care quality everywhere”.
A glimpse into the future of social media and healthcare
Carolyn Der Vartanian writes:
The Centre for Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease symposium heard presentations from a variety of faculties and disciplines, including sociology, information technologies, the humanities and electrical engineering – reflecting the broad impact of emerging communication technologies on all aspects of health.
Robert Steele, the symposium Chair and Professor of Health Informatics’ stressed that the future of communication and technology is indeed mobile as by 2012 six billion people will have mobile phones.
The increasing use of smart phones enable users to act as mobile “cyber-physical systems”, pocket ‘computers’ that combine physical and cyber systems, extending information systems into our everyday lives.
It will be a two-way exchange: information about personal travel, habits, lifestyle, environment going out via GPS, cameras, microphones, sensors and information coming in the same way and enhanced by easily accessible applications.
The implications for improving health, disease management and health promotion are great: think assisted living, bionics and personal medical devices!
The audience was given a snapshot of the future including:
- ECG apps for your smartphone
As JulieLeask tweeted:
Phones will be able to do an ECG on you. Imagine the ramifications: medical, psychological, ethical, legal. #SydSoMe
- the use of on-line and mobile interventions to improve medication and food intake for diabetics
- the use of natural language processing to decipher what is being spoken about on social networks and news feeds– something that can be very helpful in tracking attitudes towards health and disease prevention and management
- Personal health information monitoring on everyday appliances and during everyday activities such as the Cardiocam mirror that approximates a person’s heart rate:
As JulieLeask tweeted:
Bathroom mirrors that can monitor vital signs while you brush you teeth. What the? #SydSoMe
- research into the spread of influence in social networks using mathematical models which is important in understanding how information spreads differently in different networks.
- Use of biomedical engineering to develop cutting edge devices such as ECG sensors in your car, “smart beds” which take measurements related to the heart health whilst the person is asleep via conductive fibres in the sheets, and the use of old TV remote control sensors to measure baby body fat.
It wasn’t all about shiny gizmos, however.
Dr Becky Freemen of the Sydney School of Public Health explained her research into the unintended opportunities within social media for regulated industries such as the tobacco industry to promote their products and that they are actively doing so!
As YouthHealth tweeted:
Dr Becky Freemean: smoking advertisers get away with advertising via social media #SydSoMe
On the flip side, research by Emily Kothe at the School of Psychology highlighted that we can’t assume that all young people are ‘digital natives’.
Her interventions around increasing fruit and vegetable consumption amongst young adults showed that this group preferred to receive their information via email and webpages, not social networking sites.
• Carolyn Der Vartanian was awarded a research scholarship by the Hospital Alliance Research Collaborative (HARC) to investigate the effectiveness of social media as a tool to fast-track research evidence into clinical practice. She is currently conducting an on-line survey of Australian health professionals and their social media usage. Carolyn is a Program Leader for Blood Watch, a patient blood management program, at the Clinical Excellence Commission.