Changing the face of Health Activism through Technology
WEGO Health would like to extend a big thanks to Nate Osit for hosting this week’s #HAChat focusing on the power of Health Technology. Nate describes himself as “just your average Health IT geek” and we couldn’t think of a better Health Activist to lead an engaging discussion about technology’s impact on Health Activism.
Produceconsume: #HAchat Tech moves health activism out from behind the curtain. Reveals what can be done.
Technology has had an incredible impact on healthcare in terms of the connections it has fostered within patient communities. Patients can connect with others living with their condition across the globe. Patients with conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis can form relationships where they cannot in real life (IRL). The internet has given patients the power of anonymity – allowed people to reach out to others without fear of discrimination and stigma that is all too common in society. And while these connections are being made, information is being generated and shared all over the virtual world, building a vast library that is available at the click of a mouse. All of these conversations that we’re having – every blog post, Facebook note, or forum discussion is adding to a collective set of knowledge from which we can all benefit. The availability of information via technology puts patients and the healthcare industry on more even ground. While you still may not have the knowledge of your doctor or physician, you have access to information that will allow you to engage in a dialogue with your doctor or your healthcare team, rather than a one-sided conversation.
Technology has expanded the reach of Health Activism. While there have been IRL support groups and walks for many years, these events are largely local, serving only the small population that can take advantage of them. Technology has amplified the reach of Health Activists; it has turned bloggers into nationally recognized advocates, authors, speakers, and more. It has given the patients the platform to voice their concerns, and to know that instead of getting lost in the din of the crowd, someone else is listening to what they have to say. Technology didn’t create Health Activists, but it certainly opened the door for the patient empowerment movement happening in our country today. Technology also enhances our ability to connect in real life as well. It allows us to organize events, support groups, advocacy organizations, walks, meet-ups, tweet ups, etc. It allows us to be at events and conferences that we couldn’t attend IRL.
Finally, the simplest technology can make the biggest difference. When people think of technological innovations and how they have changed healthcare, your mind (or at least mine) jumps to robots that perform surgery and all of the latest diagnostic devices. Having “cutting edge” equipment is the goal of any hospital since it allows doctors to perform more specialized procedures, better detect disease and hopefully provide patients with better care. However, what we consider today to be basic technology continues to have the biggest impact. When we think back to the beginning of the internet days, the coolest thing ever was being able to talk with friends with the click of the button. Chat rooms, though creepy, were the beginning of modern online patient communities. Even some of the largest communities today don’t have a super fancy interface or many special features. The reason people visit the community isn’t to experience the latest and greatest in health tech, it’s to talk to other patients and people in their position. Though certainly not a simple innovation at the time, we should take the time to remember that this open line of communication is what continues to be the foundation of Health Activism and our greatest tool as Health Activists.
Additional thoughts, questions or concerns? Email us at email@example.com and don’t forget to join WEGO Health and other Health Activists for our #HAChat every Tuesday at 3 PM ET.