Health Is Social

Infusing Social Media into Healthcare

Death of My Blog

This blog, Health Is Social, was once read by a decently large sized audience. It got RTs and comments.

Today, not so much.

Reasons: the content, the frequency, the rare link-back commenting on others’ posts, the low-rate of any promotion…

Also, I decided not to write “How To…” or “Top Ten…” posts – the reliable parlor trick of link-baiting.

I used to believe with a passion that Healthcare and Social Media would rally deep discourse.

But it’s become a promotional world. A world of links and pats-on-backs – in short, a world of belief-reinforcement.

It’s become a place where people say things that sound wonderful. And maybe they are.

But there’s little anger. Little understanding of the danger of today’s technologies. It’s become like some weird version of the Positive Imagery movement.

And now, I’m pretty close to giving up.

I love writing and speaking about Healthcare.

But mine is a lone voice. And you can cry out so much until you lose energy.

I felt the same way when I was a bedside nurse: I worked my butt off for my patients…but in the end, I couldn’t stand having to fight wars with administrators who saw themselves as healthcare experts but were almost absolutely clueless. All talk, no do. (You can spot them: they’re the ones who never ask the docs and nurses “Need a help lifting?”)

Maybe these feelings were seeded earlier this year: I was asked to speak at a conference. A representative from a Pharmaceutical company introduced herself to some of us. As we talked, I told her what I did and that I used to practice nursing. She said “Oh, you’re a nurse? That’s wonderful. Nurses are so important.” You know what said next? “I’m going to talk to Dr. ___ because those are the insights I need to hear about.”

It wasn’t the words she said. I understood utterly that the physician view is key to Pharma. But it was her body language. The way her eyes subtly shifted the moment she learned I was a nurse and not a physician.

Think about that. Think of the opportunity she lost there. And she just walked away from it because she inherited stereotypes of nurses and doctors – as if what we do are completely unrelated.

This idiotic and ignorant cultural behavior needs to stop.

Since I’ve been around the country speaking and trying to elucidate and question the possibilities before us, I don’t know if I can stand doing it anymore.

I have my community over on RNchat and MDchat – two populations who can make the biggest differences. If you’d like to be a part of leading them, let me know.

It’s a tough decision to put a blog down.

I added my voice, my ideas, my passion.

I think I may be more useful working at Starbucks or Wholefoods. No joke.

Phil Baumann

484-362-0451

 

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  • Phil, Since I have long considered you my mentor in all things social media, I would be sad if you stopped writing this blog. It has been a source of wisdom and humor and knowledge. I will continue to ask you for advice whether you shut the blog down or not. I hope you keep at it. Please

    • Phil Baumann

      Thanks, Kent.

      I feel the same way about you.

      I’ll consider it. I’m just burnt out now.

  • Well, Phil, I hope you’ll reconsider.

    I’ve only been at this social media thing for a year+ now, but I can see your point about living in a world of belief-reinforcement. Yours is a blunt voice, a contrary opinion. We need that for healthy conversations, and some of us only get it from your blogposts.

    Only you can prioritize the best use of your talents. But wherever you go, keep blurting out those opinions that cause me to stop and ask, “Why is he saying this?”

  • Hi Phil.

    Wow, you can really feel the frustration coming through your words here. I’ll second Kent’s comments, I have enjoyed your commentary and combination of inside-baseball + outside-awareness of larger picture. Though largely a lurker and rarely a blog commentor (here or anywhere), I would not put too much concern that diminishing returns on comment volume is a true reflection of the worth of your posts. I’m not sure that highly engaged, reflective, challenging comments are a useful yardstick to 99% of blog authors today. As you’ve alluded to, this is quite a sad statement vs. the original hype and “spirit of the blogosphere” as a world-changing communication medium, (that has lost much of its shine in the light of reality).

    Most blog comment threads fall into one of two camps: 1) self-promotion and “nice post!” fawning, or 2) angry shouting matches where not one single person’s opinion has any hope of being influenced to change amidst all the yelling and demonizing

    I think a lot of thoughtful (and appreciative) folks do lurk, and do not comment nor engage more out of overall distaste with the discourse on blogs in general. It would be a shame if you backed out due to reduced comments here being a reflection more of overall social media malaise.

    Now if you’ve just lost the itch to write, then that’s an entirely different story.

    If you’re on the fence, take a sabbatical for a few weeks and see if the fire rekindles.

  • Hi Phil,

    I know people hate to hear: “I know what you mean.”

    But, I’ll take the risk.

    I have been in this place. I’ve quit my blog and walked away a couple of times. Yes, I came back.

    In the beginning I was part of a community that was much as you describe. It pulled me downward so I did not look back. Like you, I wrote (& write) what I believe from my heart and let people decide whether they will read or believe or value it.

    That was actually how I stumbled upon hcsm. It was a new community two+ years ago that quickly showed me there are many large and small seas in social media. I cannot relate to many posts there, but hcsm introduced me to other communities and helped me learn how to build one.

    I still want to quit sometimes when someone takes advantage of me. Or I see what you describe: a lot of hype and little substance or progress. There are other times when I experience what you describe with the Pharma rep, except that I’m “only a patient,” which apparently is a commodity worth a little less than hamburger. When I am treated improperly on social media because of lack of “credentials,” it tends to make me mad because it seems hopeless. Patients are just like serfs hammering away at a stone wall that won’t come down. The “professionals” don’t hear what we say, except for a tiny elite group.

    The bigger social media gets, with more platforms and more people, the harder it will become to be heard. When your important message is crowded out (or mine or anyone’s), there is a stage when we all have to learn new techniques to manage what we see since there will not ever be time to read it all. I’ve been working hard to try to see what I want to see in the time I have. I am at a complete loss with the G+. There is no time to learn this thing or contribute there. I am a patient after all – and I wish I weren’t, but I am actually. I push myself every day to do the most I can, but it’s too much.

    Do what you need to do, Phil. But I hope you’ll hear you aren’t alone. You made a difference to many who were learning along the way, whether or not they have time to tell you. And there is a community that will emerge out of the new larger mega community – which will take the next step to help shape the future of healthcare. I am not sure how I’ll help, but I know that I’m motivated to make lives better for patients and that I’ll be trying to figure it out. Maybe after a break, you’ll be there to help me figure it out

  • Susan Eller (@s_eller)

    I have also found so much value in your truths – yes the humor, the willingness to say the SoMe emperor is naked and paunchy, and especially your appeal to all to stay human and connected.

    I would like to keep reading, but that is your choice – whatever you decide, I hope that you never lose the voice that is uniquely Phil. And that you find a way to express that voice that can make your heart sing again.

    Stupid cliche that a friend is someone who helps you remember the song in your heart when you have forgotten the words – I hope you know that you have many who believe in you and will sing along to goofy tunes as needed.

  • Hey Phil, I hope you do “consider it”. Your voice, ideas, and passion have been an inspiration to countless nurses (not to mention those people at #hcsm πŸ™‚ Your ideas and examples about healthcare social media and HealthIsSocial guided me to do a successful social media program (alone & without input) in my spare time for a hospital @stshno As with Kent, the blog has been a source of wisdom and humor and knowledge for me too. Walk away for while and then come back – we are still in the 1st inning.

  • Dear Phil,
    You’ve been burning out and burned out for a while, which is what happens to passionate “thought leaders.”

    Yours has always been a prophetic voice in healthcare social media that I’d miss. Maybe some time apart without disappearing forever would be restorative. Seems to be a strategy that has worked for other prophets.

    Pax max

  • Rob

    I’ve burnt out and have hung up blogging for a while. For me the response became more important than the message. At the start I was just happy to be saying things, but after a while I became dependent on the reactions. It’s easy in blogs to have that.

    I see blogs like the literary version of Xanax (or other short acting meds). They are addictive because you get immediate response (comments, in the case of the blog). Slower media like books or magazines are less dependent on your audience.

    I feel your pain. I am still on a hiatus and am not certain if/when I will be mentally ready to return. Don’t get down, just see it as time to live life without an audience. It’s nice, after you get through the withdrawal.

  • Claire Holt

    Hi Phil,

    I’m sorry I’ve lurked without commenting, but I’ve been here a while. Actually I felt I wasn’t qualified to comment.. I’m nearly a Health Information Manager, one semester to go (mature student). I’ve a background of IT system implementation and I’ve supported a Nursing education department in a major tertiary teaching hospital.

    I’ve railed that “idiotic and ignorant cultural behavior” time and time again, and I will continue to do so. The tide is turning, Phil, albeit slowly. Probably too slowly for social media to have any truly useful role.

    I heard you..

    And I hope to hear you again.

  • Hi Phil

    The lead in to this post suggests that you’ve attracted and then lost subscriptions to this blog. I find that hard to believe – why would anyone unsub from you? – but I’ll take it that I’m not misinterpreting you.

    A couple of general observations. I bundle all providers – MDs, RNs, hospitalists, pharmacists, you name it – into the category ‘healthcare providers’. That’s where they get listed by me on Twitter, Google+ and anywhere else my fingers lead me. I don’t see individuals, I see contributors to the collective improvement of patient outcomes. Any HCP worth their salt hopefully sees the world in the same way.

    I recognize the sort of behavioural traits you describe in some industry professionals from my time getting variously ignored or thrown off of industry stands at professional conferences when I worked in scholarly publishing. It wasn’t a job for the glass-jawed, which as a tender soul underneath it all, I found heavy going.

    The main reason was that my ‘I’m a partner, not a vendor!’ approach was viewed as a pitch rather than a genuine offer of help. That’s a shame, because I meant it. B2B products are really selling tangible assistance, not real or virtual commodities. Retrospectively, I suppose I was a social business developer before I self-identified as one.

    I know your dejection is born of frustration. That’s understandable. Very few people are lucky enough to have the mental facilities that afford them the rare whole-of-the-moon perspicacity that is your stock in trade, which is just one of the reasons why I, along with all the commenters preceding me, view your opinions on just about everything so highly.

    We view you as a fellow traveller, but one who is better equipped than we are to describe the terrain through which we are passing.

    Blog, don’t blog. It doesn’t really matter (though I’d favour the former). Hang out where you want to. The folks who care about what you do will continue to seek you out to hear what you think.

    Check out those names above and what they say about you, and know that we all care.

    Health really is social.

    You know that. You said that. We agree.

    It’s business that isn’t social.

    We need your insight at the intersection of social health and social business as their evolution continues. I was going to say ‘slowly’, but what evolves quickly?

    We need you to help the wearers of the fake Conference Smile to help understand the fundamental reorientation that needs to take place within healthcare in order to align lofty corporate straplines with actually-existing states of being.

    We need you to help make it better.

    That’s what you do, every time you blog.

    It may not feel like that to you.

    It feels like that to us.

  • @Zimbarama

    Dear Phil,

    Oh no, its with sadness I read this post, I have always found your posts really insightful, witty and always full of great thoughts.

    I do understand where you are coming from, and it is a pity to lose a valuable voice in the relm of SM and healthcare, marketing ruins everything……

    P

  • I meant ‘healthcare professionals’ #facepalm.

  • I’ve killed two blogs. One because it didn’t seem to be going anywhere and one because where it was going was bad for me. I’m now thinking about killing a third because I seldom get any feedback, so I feel I’m shouting into the wind.

    Regardless about how strongly one feels about a subject, belief is often not enough fuel to keep going on. One has to have the occasional interaction that shows that others are listening and that even if they don’t agree, they recognize the value of your opinion.

    Maybe you’re not making the impact you’d like to. Maybe this isn’t the venue for making the kind of impact you’d like to. Maybe what’s needed is for you to review your goals and your strategy and tactics for meeting them. This is what I’m going to do. In the meantime, let’s both agree not to assume that our words have had no importance or effect on others. One person alone may not always be able to make significant change, but that one person’s actions can affect others and be part of what causes that change. Sometimes, that has to be enough.

  • Do it! πŸ™‚

    If you feel like its not achieving the goals you’re looking for, or isn’t fulfilling your personal ideals, then dump it! Blogs are just another medium, and it’s not like if you stop blogging there’s no coming back ever. Maybe it would be helpful to work on some new projects. Maybe it would be helpful to take time off and just relax. You would obviously have a better sense of what’s best for you right now…

    That said, you’ve got a powerful voice, and people listen to you, even when you say things they may not want to hear. I think we could use more voices encouraging people to use social media in a truly social way.

    It is easy to get caught up in analyzing social media, and forget that its a way of communicating a message, and encourage others to take action. Maybe it would be useful to spend some time thinking about what those messages should be, and what actions will get the results you’re looking for?

    I’ve noted you like reading/mentioning Marx in your posts, so I will leave you with this gem worth repeating from his “Theses On Feuerbach”:

    “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.”

    You’ve done well at interpreting the social media landscape. Now, let’s change it. πŸ™‚

  • Keep going Phil! Just do it. I’ve been blogging about healthcare systems and public health for ages and I rarely get much feedback, but I figure if a few peeps read it, that’s better than noone. I’d love to change the world, but can’t even get a job! Just keep doing what you believe in- maybe get your blog attached to one of the health/science sites. I got myself attached to http://reportingonhealth.org and they seem to have intelligent debate and reasonably wide readership.
    Incidentally when that Pharma person remarked to you, I thought it implied she was going to tell Dr X how important a real nursing point of view can be & have nurses included more!

  • NNR

    I feel like quitting blogging sometimes too, like others have said. For me the secret is not to watch the stats or anything. If I have something to say, I say it, and at least I’m getting value out of it whether I have thousands of readers or not. Unless I’m getting paid to blog, it’s a hobby, which means it should be fun. If it isn’t, I don’t do it. Obviously I read your blog, but I rarely comment on anyone’s blog because it’s such a pain in the butt these days. Maybe your comments have gone that route? Dunno. Good luck whatever you decide!

  • Thanks for the message from your heart. The honesty is therapeutic for the readers/followers. The use of SM for the message reaffirms its importance for “Heart People” who fear that numbers are overtaking the Human Condition.
    Your passion has inspired and annoyed many, who changed as a result. Good luck with the review and renewal that passion sometimes demands.
    From #hcsm to #MDChat, I’m one SM’er who is thankful for your passion and leadership.
    Pat

  • Well that sucks. There goes the last person on the internet that actually had something interesting to say. I had a feeling we were coming to the end of it all. I’m only half kidding. You were so on the money when you tweeted something about 2008. That’s where it stopped being fun. You could probably pinpoint it to a single moment where someone put up an online degree spam site and at the same moment another interesting blogger decided to call it quits.

    I wish I could say something encouraging. I just hope you eventually come back to blogging because you are one of the few interesting voices out there.

  • Hello Phil!
    I guess we all have to do what you have to do, but remember that if the few people who actually go from talking to doing stop doing then nothing will happen.
    I understand that it is frustrating but it will be even worst just letting go. You are not alone, there are a few of us (maybe together we are a whole bunch) who actually care enough to make things happen and like Andrew said, we need you and your insights!
    Hope to see you around!!!! πŸ™‚

  • Phil, I cannot say anything more than Anrdew Spong.

    One thing though, we need pople who speak their mind. especially when they know what they are talking about.

    I see people who have failed in pharma companies (and other fields) declaring themselves as thought leaders when they have no right to do so. A few twitter followers and RT’s and they feel emboldened.

    We need genuine thought leaders, people with intelligence who have something to say.

    Don’t go. I understand if you have to though.

  • Well Phil, far be it from me to stop you from doing something you are committed to, but I would suggest a hiatus.
    Seems to me you’ve been bleeding your efforts into the SoMe forum. Even the finest of engines will eventually stall when you run all cylinders continuously.
    Take a breather.
    Find the balance you so richly deserve.

    I’m pretty sure SoMe isn’t going anywhere, and neither are those that listen (and matter).

    Hang in there buddy.

    I echo everyone’s sentiments, it would be a great loss for you to leave.

  • Look forward to seeing whatever you do:) I liked having another sceptical voice to keep me company!

  • Phil,

    For what it’s worth, I love your blog and definitely feel that the healthcare social media realm is a richer place because of your voice. Your passion is evident – and there’s a real shortage of authentic, passionate discourse these days.

    Take some time and return with new energy.

    Dan

  • Sorry to hear but I get ya and it is frustrating as you spend all your time lecturing trying to improve clinical services and be an inspiration and yet at the same time have to face all the administrators that don’t get it. I spend all my time warning the clinician and nurses to be aware of the data side of this how things get skewed and everything not always as it seems and speak up for all doctors, patients and nurses when I can as healthcare has become so commoditized and impersonal.

    People seem to take it for granted and when they get sick expect healthcare to be there for them and with the way things are rolling, it’s hard as it should be the people business with tech to help out, not tech to take over running healthcare which is what we seem to be getting today. The MDs are not getting any easier software and regulations either these days and I know a bunch that would love to sell their practices, but they don’t because they are “people persons”.

    I just spoke on social media at a medical records annual meeting in Austin and the one story that sticks in my head is the clinic with MDs and nurses seeing 100 patients a day, that’s each doctor working from 8 to 8 and they were there learning how to improve anything they could. Those hours were needed for 2 reasons, one to keep the clinic open with enough revenue and the second reason was to provide care to the area and this was not in the country but in a major city. So when you see things as such happening and the “experts” with statistics forgetting that it is still the people business it gets frustrating and you wonder how far it will go before the fire alarm goes off.

    We appreciate your comments and if you decided to take a rest, stop by and visit all of us who are still chattering as you are always welcome and best of luck.

  • Phil, hang in there! Take some time off and come back to continue writing. I will tell you with all certainty that the number of original voices are dying out. Everyone is selling off to syndicates. Twitter is flooded with tweets and re-tweets of syndicated articles.

    Things have slowed down a bit in health care blogging but that’s across the board.

    Re-energize, come back, keep things light and positive and you should see an upswing. I’d be disappointed if another original writer kept their voice from being heard.

  • I would be so, so sad to see your voice disappear. You’re so needed, Phil.

  • Speaking from the perspective of patient advocacy, I want to join my voice to your supporters here. I completely get your frustration but don’t give up. We need more impartial voices like yours. As Dr Sikorski says “hang in there..re-energize”, take the time to regroup and keep reaching out to your community.