“From the dawn of civilization up to the year 2003, we created 5 Exabytes of information.
We now produce 5 Exabytes every two days.”
Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, quoted from his comments
at the Techonomy Conference, lake Tahoe, CA, 2010.
Much of that information is being produced in the digital world. On the internet. And a fair amount of it is on various topics of healthcare. Most of the healthcare information is NOT being created by physicians, or nurses, or even by hospitals. Most is created to lure readers in so they will click on ads – ads for a supplement, for a diet program, for medications, or for an insurance product.
No wonder patients find it challenging to find accurate healthcare information.
That’s where physicians need to get involved. “We owe it to our patients to help educate them; to provide accurate healthcare information so that they can make informed decisions. This is part of our obligation to our patients - to help them achieve optimal health.” says Russell Faust, MD, PhD.
But “providing accurate healthcare information” does NOT mean that we need to PRODUCE that information. Most of us hate to write. Even if we enjoy it, we simply do not have the time.
So, where does that leave us? HOW can we provide accurate healthcare information for patients?
The first place to start is with your Clinic Handouts. I’m confident you give patients some sort of hard copy, paper information sheets. These usually cover things like dietary recommendations for diabetics, or pre-op instructions, or post-op instructions, etc.
First recommendation: have those information handouts scanned into digital format. Produce some pdf files that can be uploaded to your website. While you’re at it, add your clinic registration forms, and any insurance forms, or other forms that patients spend time filling out with a pen in your waiting room. Even though they hate filling out forms, they would much rather do it in their own homes than while sitting in your waiting room.
Next recommendation: recognize that YOU are the expert. Your patients rely on you to point them to accurate websites, to provide accurate healthcare information. Take that one step further: search the internet for the good stuff, filter out the bad stuff, collect the good stuff in one place, and present it to your patients.
The term for this is content curation. Just as a museum curator collects the best to display for their audience, you can now collect the best information to display for your patient community.
There are now several platforms or programs that will help you do this. They are content curation platforms. The most popular right now are Paper.li and Scoop.it, both of which do all of the things that I described: filter out the trash, collect the articles that you deem worthy, and present them all in one place.
Most of these content curation platforms present those articles in the form of a daily paper. Most of them also allow you to add an editorial comment.
How do you curate? How do you curate efficiently?
There are many tools out there to assist in the process, but the basic workflow is:
1) Find articles and information on the web that are specific to your area of expertise.
2) Provide your reaction to the article. (If you completely disagree with an article, be careful in how you respond – you don’t want to start any wars!)
3) Distribute the article and your reaction to your followers through the appropriate channels.
Let’s break this down and look at how this can be accomplished efficiently with the various tools that exist. [Please note: many tools exist; those mentioned below represent the few that I currently use.]
I ‘find’ articles from numerous sources:
- Twitter: I look for relevant articles mentioned by my Twitter friends. If I don’t have time to review the article when it first appears, I ‘favorite’ it (flag it) and come back to it later.
- Blog subscriptions
- Google+ and Facebook
- Scoop.it: Based on keywords, Scoop.it does an excellent job of searching the world wide web (including social platforms) for relevant articles.
I provide my reaction to relevant articles by leveraging the editorial capabilities within Scoop.it. Whether I ‘found’ the article via Scoop.it or another channel, it doesn’t matter. Either way, I add them to my Scoop.it Topic (publication) and add my reaction in the form of an editorial comment.
Scoop.it also provides some very handy tools for prioritizing and reorganizing the articles so that you can make sure that the most important or most relevant show up on top.
Now, to distribute the ‘filtered’ articles to your followers, you have a few options.
1) You can simply post the article on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ (depending on what channels your followers frequent)
2) You can post the link to your entire Scoop.it publication on any of the channels listed above.
3) Through the Scoop.it interface, you can post the article (in the context of the Scoop.it publication) to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ etc. Followers will be directed back to the article in the context of the Scoop.it publication so that they can see not only that article but also other articles that you’ve found relevant.
Curation is a highly effective approach to providing your community (patients, caregivers, other physicians, etc.) with your ‘filtered’ information. It’s hard enough for your community to sift through the tons of information out there to determine what is valid and what is not.
Whether you treat curation as a replacement for, or in addition to writing your own original content, it’s a valuable service to your community.
I devote about 30 minutes per day to curation. Since I’m a morning person, I enjoy my first cup of Jo while reviewing articles and writing commentary on 2 to 3 articles – which are distributed through the various channels mentioned above.
As an example of what a Scoop.it publication looks like, feel free to view my curated topic: Healthcare Social Media News
Please share your curation experience.