Health Is Social

Infusing Social Media into Healthcare

The Definition of Digital Health

There is no one definition of Digital Health, but in light of the increased use of the concept in recent years – and often with emphasis more on the technological side than on the human experience – it has become crucial to gain a pulse of its proverbial carotid artery without pressing too hard so-to-speak, lest the brain suffer oxygen-depletion (please don’t do that btw).

Several months ago, I wrote a white paper on Digital Health (currently unpublished), when I realized a clear definition of Digital Health – and its subsidiary concepts such as Digital Medicine, mHealth, Social Health (hcsm), HITsm, IoHCt (Internet of Healthcare Things), etc., was essential in developing intelligent frameworks with which to work. (I’ll explain how their inter-relationships work with each other and the hiearchical structures in a future post.)

I wanted a definition that was at once relatively short and sufficiently thorough to capture the holistic dynamism of what Digital Health means (or *aught* to mean).

So here is what made the most sense for me to write:

Digital Health is the collaborative integration of disparate technologies into Healthcare to prevent, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and to encourage, measure, track, and support wellness. It is – above all – about people, not things.

It is this last part “It is – above all – about people, not things” which must be the focus of discussions about Digital Health and its ethical, moral, technical, political, legal, clinical, commercial, and human ramifications.

Now, any definition of Digital Health can go on and on and on – for example, we could include mentions that it involves not just how consumers can empower themselves but also how *all* parties are involved: how Digital Health also empowers providers to deliver better care and enables innovators to produce novel solutions to ancient problems . But I think I’ll leave what I have there because we need something that is open enough to imply derivatives – that’s the great thing about Digital Health: there’s plenty of empty design space to fill with creativity and diligence in the coming years.

Buzzwords can kill us – but if they at least convey meaning that corresponds to something real, I suppose we might as well make the most of them.

Too often, discussions about Digital Health and its related categories and topics, especially on Twitter, have over-focused (even fetishized) the technology at the expense of how everything comes together within overall processes that ultimately should benefit people – not feed an addiction to shiny new things.

P.S. For you long-time readers who are seeing this post after a hiatus, the ones who knew me when I started the first clinical Twitter chats back in the day (back when all these noobies in Healthcare who never even knew what “that Tweeter thingy” was can’t seem to get off Twitter now): Hi.

I told ya things would start to take off – now it’s just a matter of flushing out the jingoism of techno-fetishism which has come to dominate current thinking in Healthcare. I hope you are well. Stay tuned: I might have some cool stuffs rolling out. I’m still @PhilBaumann, but @HealthIsSocial is a bit, um, saner…kinda.


(Email me if you care to comment or say Hi:

The application of Social Media – especially in Healthcare – may seem to be a relatively simple matter.

But it isn’t.

Look around at the times were in: we have different generations aiming to use social media – and they all are looking at the world through different lenses, angles, contexts. The 50-year old social media guru makes assumptions about those inexperienced millennials. Those inexperienced millennials make assumptions about that 50-year old who thinks she’s a genius because she was on Twitter before them. (It all smells like teen spirit these days.)

Here’s the reality – few things worthy of doing well are easy to do.

Mapping out visions, developing strategies, organizing tactics, executing every single day in the face of questionable return, undying change, and conflicting political dynamics – these are not categories that easily dovetail.

So while executives and managers in Healthcare who fell into a worm-hole in 1991 may be finally figuring out what “that @ thing on *the* Twitter” is, the chances of any one organization to succeed on a day-to-day, week-to-week, year-to-year basis is low. Sorry – but it’s just true.

Expectations-setting is a critical part of achieving good Healthcare outcomes.

Right now, the Healthcare industry is being sold very high expectations *and* being told it’s “not all that hard”.

But it is. Anybody who has been involved in running Enterprise-level social media knows that it is. We know how ideas get killed, how poor internal communications demolish productivity, how frustrating it is to get consensus on even the simplest problems, etc.

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to waste your time. You do have other choices. You do have values to offer – if doing social media won’t come easy, do you think it will make your core values any better? If it takes your best communications personnel more than 15 minutes to write 3 short paragraphs on a known topic…well, let’s just say you’ve just failed a critical litmus test*.

The claim that you will be left behind because you don’t use social media is baseless mimicry of Silicon Valley babble.

It’s not that these media don’t have roles to play.

It’s just that once you start playing, you better know your game.

Like the back of your hand.

Disappointed? Don’t worry – 1991 wasn’t a bad year to get stuck in a worm-hole.

*Rule of 3: 3 sentences per paragraph, 1 paragraph in 5 minutes ==> 3 paragraphs (9 lines) in 15 minutes.

This post is not about gossip. It isn’t about spreading unconfirmed allegations. It is, however, about calling attention to the silence in Silicon Valley (the place and the principle) about a crucial matter of our time.

A former girlfriend of Techcrunch founder Mike Arrington alleged in a Facebook update that he abused her. Now, allegations of abuse happen all the time – many true, many untrue. And, as often is the case, when ‘celebrities’ are involved news travels fast. In fact much of what spreads is uninformed and infantile – and the surrounding discussions evade the core problem.

Domestic Violence is a tough topic to discuss: it’s poorly understood, our legal and political systems are arcane, and our culture still has yet to grasp the nature of violence – especially violence against women and children.

What’s disturbing about the allegation against Mike Arrington is that the tech blogger and Silicon Valley culture has been almost dead-silent on the matter. This silence is not attributable to “waiting for the facts to come in” – no, this is a community that will latch on to the slightest gossip with fury. So why so silent in this matter? What’s up with that? Here’s the SERP for Google Search in News more 2 days after the story broke.

Well, I think it’s important for the subject of this story to become a bigger story for two reasons: 1) We need to bring Domestic Violence out of our systemic denial of it and 2) the tech industry *is* important and leadership is essential – if we have poor leadership then we have both poor technology and poor uses of those technologies. So the two go together here.

If  unconfirmed ‘facts’ can be tarted up in Infographics, embedded on tech blogs, and spread virally via social media, then why on earth would a topic as important as Domestic Violence get barely any traction?

The Tech industry should not be run by Misogyny. This is a community that had Red Avatars in support of Marriage Equality on millions of social media accounts. But how on earth can we expect to have Marriage Equality if we can’t even solve the problem of Domestic Violence? You tell me.

So below is Loren Feldman eloquently outlining the problem. Loren is one of the smartest people in tech – many people fear him for some reason, but I think that’s just their insecurity. But this post isn’t about Loren – I post his video here, however, because the question is: Why is Loren pretty much the only person in tech to speak up?

Is Mike Arrington so terrifying to the tech community? I never met him, so I can’t be a judge. But really – why so silent? And where’s Arriana Huffington in all of this?

So, for what it’s worth, here’s Loren’s video. I hope you watch all of it. I hope the *topic* of Domestic Violence gets a lot more public attention in Silicon Valley because the things it produces will influence us for a very long time. If those who want us to accept their ideologies of Open Source, etc. can’t speak up on Domestic Violence, then what credibility do they have? How can we trust that they will fight for all human dignity? Why should we listen to them?

We can’t claim Social Media and Tech is “revolutionary” if important topics are thrown into the shadow because of personalities being afraid of facing real problems or focusing on drama. It’s the 21st Century. It’s time for us to grow up. Because children who never grow up eventually hurt children, and the cycle never ever ends.

Loren’s video:


Pig on a truckAs technologies and media continue their infiltration into work places, into individual and family life, into classrooms, into bathrooms, into eyewear, into sweaty bedsheets, into almost anywhere human fingers and eyes appear, we will see increases in isolation, weakened social relations perceived as intimacy, anxiety, personality disorders, suicides, addictive behaviors, and a much longer list of brain-health pathologies.

I’m not saying that technology and media necessarily cause this. But the current state of hardware and software have not at all taken into account the way our brains and bodies work. These technologies have had very specific histories behind them – they did not just arise out of nothing.

The designers, the programmers, the sellers…none have invested the time, effort, and knowledge into how these tools can work *with* us. Instead we are supposed to adapt to them. Not only that, but the ideology of Silicon Valley implies that you are a ‘luddite’ or ‘lagger’ for not heading the command to adapt – as if we’re the idiots for not conforming to their autistic-like view of the world (I use ‘autistic’ in its general, not clinical sense here – this isn’t a reference to autism).

Why should that be? Why must we have to adapt to an electronic Paper Clip? Why must we have to adapt to 140 characters? Why must we Like when we actually Hate?

We have reached a time, however, when we are being left with little choice: soon everywhere you look (if not already), people will be either staring at screens or *through* them. Reality will be augmented, while connection with reality will be reduced. (Reduced connection to reality is a simple description of clinical psychosis.)

I am not be alarmist here. I am telling you that this will be the case.

You can ignore me.

Or you can think about it, look around, and decide to be passive…or ask “What is to be done?”

You will see more isolation. Unless you are one of the isolated. You simply will not see it – much as you can’t see the back of your own head.

And that’s the problem – this worsening of mental illness will worsen even more because it will be left untreated.

Up until now, our struggles have been against tyrants of old, or in more recent times, the Communists or Fascists.

But what do you do in a world where your fellow human beings are tethered to electrons, glass, and flickering lights?

I’m not a life coach or guru, so I can’t tell you what to do.

All I can say is: mental illness in our world will worsen, social media will continue to play a contributory role, and you may be victim if you aren’t already.

Whatever your center is – whatever that thing is that makes you *you* – know where it is.

And when you walk among other human beings who know their center, you’ll recognize each other.

And you will remember what true friendship was supposed to be all about.

It wasn’t about technology. And Technology wasn’t supposed to be about friendship.

How did this perversion of the two happen? How have we let it happen? How?

I enjoy writing and using this tech stuff to communicate . But I’m very concerned about where things are headed.

I wish you well if you find yourself in the world I see arriving. I really do.

As for me, meditation seems reasonable.

Try sitting with yourself for 5 – 15 minutes. See how long it takes for you to get uncomfortable doing that – just sitting doing nothing.

Think about why that is.

It’s a fascinating question: Just why does it get so uncomfortable to sit with yourself doing nothing?

Social Media won’t help you with that. Only silence and discipline and a desire to find out.


(Comments can be emailed – it’s more social that way.)


Violence of a FlirtWe are the constant victims of violence, unconsciously inconsolate to the shining messengers of mimetic desire.

When we think of *violence*, we typically think of blood, or force, or other forms of physical brutality.

We may even think of other forms of violence – emotional, sexual, economic, political, ideological.

There are, however, more forms of violence which elude our conscious notice.

The image you see here – a beautiful girl with nice legs, elegantly poised; her knees burnt from carpet-play. For misogynists , it’s a humorous and cute conduction to “Flirt” (unconsciously) with Vodka. A whole lotta *V* going on.

For feminists – and everyone concerned with violence against women (which includes the use of their bodies as marketing vectors) – the image is one of clear violence, degradation, and disgust. Political pornography of a rotting and socially alcoholic world.

There is, however, something to be learned from this image – a lesson which we can uptake by comparing it to the common images presented to us (without our permission) everyday.

In an odd and paradoxical way, this particular image is “honest” in comparison to the typical Victoria’s Secret posters. “Honest” in the sense that the violence isn’t hidden from us. Yes, we could imagine a sexual partner proud of his/her rough endeavors the night before, as implied by the woman’s faint bow of satisfied desire. But we know it’s a fake – we know clearly that it is a marketing attempt to link Vodka and Vagina.

We must turn our attention to the other kinds of images – the “dishonest” images, the ones we take for granted, the ones we’ve evolved a desensitized (but porous) armor against. It is a violence much worse than the image of carpet-burns on a pair of delicate knees.

The images of those Victoria’s Secret women do not explicitly convey victimization – yes, we may say “this is victimization and violation of women”. But the critical point is that the “bareness” of their bodies conceals the violation. Whereas the image in this post bears the stigmata of “rough sex”, the “cleaner” images conceal the wider and deeper violation of the viewer. This is what we must face.

For every moment we pass an image or video or idea of a woman-object (or man-object for that matter) intended to cull or instill a sense of desire for some other object, we are violated. Not to be asked permission is to be violated.

It is this accumulation of violations which fuel an already-bipolar culture. It is a culture of social depression where hypomanic pursuits attempt to lift and save it from its collapse.

So let’s think about this – whether we are male or female, gay or straight – we are caught up in this shining cycle of sexual violence of our bipolar culture. Since we were children, we have been violated to the point where we don’t see the violence. But it’s there. We must open our eyes, lest we continue to be prey for violators.

Those images that don’t have the carpet-burns explicitly displayed? Those are the truly violent images. They are not merely acts of violence against women. They are acts of violence against all of our world, and they keep inflicting wounds that have, over time, sunk deep into our unconsciousness. It does not matter if we feel “offended” or not (I am a straight male and I readily admit to liking the Victoria’s Secret ladies, but that does not mean I am not violated by the images presented to me without my permission).

We are self-inflicting these wounds – a behavior horribly consistent with manic-depression.

The worst kind of violence is the violence shining in front of us but nonetheless hidden from our view – from our deep eye.

For this violence invades and infiltrates our minds, reshaping how we live and work and play – and even influences the health or sickness of our sexual lives. This worst kind of violence is a part of a larger violence which informs our politics, ideologies, policies, etc. It is these things which manifest or amplify the visceral violence-on-the-ground around our world. This is why it is a “worst kind of violence”.

Every act of violence begins as an un-acted idea.

Every idea becomes and image before it becomes an act.

Every image of a human used as an object inserted into our minds without our permission is a shining act of violence.

We no longer aught to be blinded.