By Gail Zahtz
Editor’s Note: In observance of DC Social Media Week (#SMWWDC), Wing of Zock presents a series of posts on popular Twitter chats with relevance to readers in academic medicine.
It started on Twitter, 140 characters at a time. In a month, it grew to a community with a six-figure sponsor. Born from a tweet chat launched in January, CarpoolHealth.com will enable physicians and patients to lead the creation of a personal health portal.
Fed by online relationships that have often moved to offline professional relationships over the past several years, the Carpool Health Community started as an ad hoc conversation between physicians, patients, caregivers, faculty, residents, university and private system executives, and people around the world of health care.
Other popular conversation topics on #CPHC include crowdsourcing, supporting many solutions, the importance of re-empowering the direct physician to patient relationship, the fact that health conversations are global but delivery is local, the need for outcome-driven learning, and so forth.
Initial parts of the conversation focused heavily on the ideas of curation, trust, and transparency—all seen as major roadblocks to accessing trustworthy information online. Patricia Anderson, Emerging Technologies Librarian at the University of Michigan, coined the term, “Trust as a virus.” Many showed approval through retweets and comments generally that the problem isn’t lack of information, but how best to curate, present, and make that information accessible for patients, providers, and caregivers.
Cindi Slater, MD, a frequent participant, was often waiting in a carpool line as she tweeted. The name “Carpool Health” took hold, and came to represent the idea of being able to “drive through,” have important health conversations, and get back to the offline world. As the community developed, its ideals meshed with the definition of carpooling, in which people share the journey but take turns at the wheel. Thus evolved the #CPHC ideal for solving health care problems: Each person is part of the process, collaborating while having their own destinations.
Originally, we intended to keep #CPHC as a 24/7 conversation. But participants expressed a preference for a weekly chat; we now use that forum to spotlight weekly guests in order to scale, duplicate, and integrate important projects, initiatives, and health policies. Within the first month, the one-hour chat had reached over 10 million impressions and was ranking constantly in the top 10 of health care tweet chats.
Among the hundreds of early and engaged supporters of the community was Tim C. Nicholson, founder of Bigfish Creative, who stepped forward to be the first sponsor of this emerging community.
“The topic of health care has for too long been a ‘broadcast-driven’ message. We see Carpool Health as a place where conversation happens among health care providers, patients, and caregivers,” said Nicholson. “That conversation leads to sharing, and sharing information that is helpful to others (but not about others) is a health care communications mantra we adopted with the rise of social media.” Bigfish is providing a six-figure sponsorship and designing a new portal for the Carpool Health community.
The new site will include learning modules that any physician or health system can use to build and share their own content, including video, whether to study for boards, CME, or to create modules for patients by disease, diagnosis, or procedure. Patients can build peer-to-peer modules on related topics including communicating with physicians, patient advocacy, and accessing resources. All are welcome to participate in the idea forums where the process, protocols, topics, and functionality are being developed openly.
“Our clients want to deliver learning at a time and place that is convenient to their members and patients. However, our health care clients have been cautious about making their materials available to the public. We see Carpool Health as a place where subject matter experts can present materials that benefit the broader community,” Nicholson said.
Other planned features include:
- Automatic local recommendations of providers, resources, and communities
- Self testing to recommend care information and learning
- Online journal clubs
- Peer-to-peer communities for physicians, patients, or students to share information in a secure medical environment (when completed, the system will be able to connect to existing health system electronic medical records)
- Fundraising for patient groups, universities, and nonprofit health initiatives.
We are extending the Carpool Health community across Google+ with weekly shows covering wide areas from specialties, to issues of big data and advocacy. Our Facebook and LinkedIn communities provide additional ways for people to become involved.
#CPHC is making health history every day. Join us! The tweet chat occurs every Tuesday at 1 pm Eastern time.
—Gail Zahtz is founder of Carpool Health. She has more than 20 years of experience in professional health communications and has appeared on “Today,” CNNfn, and Entrepreneur. She has created hundreds of coalitions, public–private partnerships, and health initiatives. Zahtz comes to health care social media as a professional communicator and also as a patient of a genetic disease, caregiver, and wife of a surgeon. She and her husband live in Minnesota with their four children.