Health Is Social

Infusing Social Media into Healthcare

Quora Concerning Suicide

“If I’m not happy with life, should I commit suicide?”

That simple question was raised on the question and answer service Quora.

I’ve been working on a post on this latest shiny new object, Quora – specifically how it might be a promising way to improve the quality of online healthcare content.

But when I saw this question pop into my Quora stream, I did a double-take.

Here’s a screenshot (click image to save your eyes):

(Note: Garry Stein isn’t asking the question – he’s answering it.)

I won’t comment too much because I want to explore Quora in more detail in another post.

Suffice to say: I think Quora may be more than just another shiny new object.

So here are a few thoughts about Quora’s potential in Healthcare:

Quora – or the premise of Quora –may just turn out to fill an important void: namely, the need for merging the streaming benefits of Twitteresque chatter with deeper vetted knowledge and organization – among many other things.

I don’t know how Quora does it, but the questions there often get ranked in Google insanely well (based on a small sample size). That could be a big deal for Healthcare.

Also: Quora could make it easier for physicians and nurses and other healthcare scientists to become content-producers.

Quora is easier than full-blown blogging – and it’s quite engaging. I’m seeing some doctors already asking and answering questions there (Laszlo Tamas, MD & Marc Pimentel, to name a couple).  For physicians and nurses who can’t squeeze much social media into their lives, Quora may be a worthy option.

Furthermore, I can see Quora’s potential for a kind of more lively networking which LinkedIn doesn’t provide. Facebook Answers may turn out to be the Q&A place in a few years, but who knows. (You can see Mark Zuckerberg’s questions here – they’re not dumb questions either given his business.)

Quora is definitely not Yahoo! Answers.

Anyhoo – I’ll ship a post on Quora soon. (Click the Rengade’s Club link below and I’ll dart it over to you.)

Meanwhile, I encourage you to click over to the question and read through the answers, even if you have no interest in Quora.

My Quora is over here. Leave yours in the comments.

How would you answer that quora concerning suicide?

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSoccialThe Renegade’s Club

484-362-0451

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  • Hi, Phil. In a way is there not already a Quora for healthcare in the form of Medhelp http://www.medhelp.org/? That has been going quite some time. How would Quora surpass it?

    And there is certainly the thriving and compelling condition specific model of PatientsLikeMe. I found the ALS community there an extremely valuable forum when my beloved boss was diagnosed with ALS. It is much more fully featured than Quora (though not open to all, which is a problem vis-a-vis visibility).

    I found your response to the suicide question excellent and to the point, “It’s OK to be a messed up, lost and suffering human being – they’re indelible parts of us.

    It’s not OK to hurt your family and friends. You’re connected to everyone, so you’re also hurting people you’ve never met. “

    • Phil Baumann

      Hi, Hope.

      I can’t imagine Quora replacing Medhelp or PLM – they’re different services with their own ways to organizing data and building community.

      Rather, Quora can be an enhancement and enrichment to the quality of findable content.

      Also, Quora is open to anybody – so we could see much deeper and wider participation of patients, physicians, nurses, researches, etc.

      It’s just a different experience, a different vibe.

      Assuming Quora scales, I could see it becoming a more popular destination for patients to search for information (type a question and if it’s already there, it instantly pops up). Also: the answers would contain links to other resources outside.

      I’m going to build more my thoughts about Quora. There’s a lot of assumptions to be made, and we’re still in the Shiny New Toy phase. But I think it’s worth plumbing it.

      Phil

  • Very interesting. I just started to dip my toes into Quora: http://www.quora.com/John-Lynn I’m still not sure if it will really go mainstream or not. However, it is an interesting service and is so much better than any of the other previous question and answer services out there. It’s not even close.

    • Phil Baumann

      Hi John,

      Yes,there’s not way to tell if it will scale or not.

      But I do think the basic premise may be promising.

      Phil

  • I too just started using Quora, and wrote a post about it from an instructional design perspective (http://bit.ly/i6iVBK) . On the health side, I note that people who do not necessarily identify themselves as “health activists” may find they have things to share with those who do and that their insights may be just as valuable to those who are seeking health information. The suicide thread is a great example of this.

    Quora really does have a different vibe from many existing social networks. I think you hit the nail on the head that its power lies in the diversity of view points. Because people join Quora to solve problems, the community is founded on the idea that people can create, share, and improve on a collective knowledge base via social interactions. I also think the platform includes some game-like elements that make you want to return to it. I hope it’s scalable, I’m really enjoying it!

    http://www.quora.com/Dianne-Rees

    • Phil Baumann

      HI Dianne.

      I agree that scaling will be important. If Quora can manage spamming and strongly enforce TOS, that would help to keep things more organized.

      Unlike other services, I think Quora will need a human team working behind the scenes. For Web purists that may be a turn off. But I think hybrid websites will do just fine.

      We’ll see how it goes.

      Your post is excellent btw. Will definitely share it!

      Phil

  • Hi, all. I just want to point out that in the wonderful world of Library 2.0 there are free online 24/7 reference library services via instant messaging and email such as we have here in Oregon, L-net: Oregon Libraries Network http://www.oregonlibraries.net/. The Oregon team work with librarians in Ohio to provide reference help around the clock. Expertise for the asking–how cool is that? And much faster than waiting around for someone to notice and respond to your Quora question. Check out what your local library has to offer as well as what the Quora community does.

    • Phil Baumann

      That’s very cool. Will have to check it out more.

      I could see how the features of Quora could dovetail or enhance services like L-net.

      I don’t think we’ll see a grand unified place for online medial help, but I do think we may see some convergence.

      For instance, I could imagine that as Quora opens its API, some interesting integrations could be developed.

  • Hi, Phil. And then there there are the APIs that the National of Medicine has released http://www.nlm.nih.gov/api/ It will be interesting to see what uses are made of the one for MedlinePlus, in particular: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/webservices.html

    Have you checked out the neat things the feds are doing at http://challenge.gov/

    • Phil Baumann

      Thanks, hope – excellent. I was actually looking for some APIs like these!!

      Phil