The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers in Healthcare Social Media

The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers in Healthcare Social Media

In the two previous posts in this series of Twitter visualizations, we’ve looked at the growth of patient communities and the dynamics and centrality of one of them. This time we will take a deeper look at the people who make up these communities.

From looking at the visualization below (PDF version), one can think of them as virtual communities set in space like constellations of stars but with people orbiting one another. The laws of physics still apply, but gravity has become a function of conversations. Conversation is gravity. Boundaries are broken down. Traditional barriers like location, profession, demographics, physical abilities and conditions will not stop you from joining in. The world is flattening. And because many traditional hierarchies and perceptions are eroding as a consequence of healthcare social media, new types of communication and communities are emerging. Twitter is the new melting pot of ideas, people, and disruptive innovation.

The Flattening of Healthcare

Is it this melting pot of people, experience and knowledge that makes Twitter so attractive for patients that they are willing to trade some privacy in return for the benefit of joining in? In our series we’ve categorized these communities as patient-centric, but as many participants can testify, the members are made up of more than just patients. Our focus this time is the #BCSM community, Breast Cancer Social Media. Below we have pointed out some of the patients represented (not all are highlighted).

Patients in Healthcare Social Media

In our first post we created a visual from about 100 million tweets over almost 2 years, while in our second post the time span was one month. This time we are looking at a snap shot of only 1 hour. But this is not just any random hour, it’s the hour of the weekly scheduled #BCSM tweet chat. These tweet chats are the epitome of a melting pot – stakeholders from many different professions exchange and discuss ideas relating to a few pre-defined topics compressed into an hour time frame. The energy can be explosive. This visual is a network centrality analysis. The larger the node, the more central or influential a member is. Links between nodes signify a direct interaction or conversation between the two. In the following visual we point out some of the healthcare providers represented (not all are highlighted).

Providers in Healthcare Social Media

Twitter provides a convenient and powerful place for patients to meet other patients where they can both receive information but also give information from their own experience – it’s that human need created in us to share knowledge which has powered much of social media. However, from the visual above where we’ve highlighted nurses, physicians, a pharmacist, etc., we can see a larger view of the attraction Twitter has for patients.

The Birthplace of Disruptive Healthcare Ideas

Many patients on social media are very engaged, many are living with chronic conditions, cancers, or rare diseases, and many have more than just knowledge to impart to others – they want to change the way healthcare is delivered. Change can only come about in a public space, you’ve got to step out from the echo chambers of private forums. The open and public nature of Twitter provides a platform where people can find a cross section of all the relevant stakeholders in healthcare. A birthplace for disruptive ideas. The perfect place for engaged patients, engaged providers, and the supporting third parties.

About the Author

Audun Utengen, MBA – @audvinJob to be done: Connect the dots in Healthcare Social Media with Data, Analytics, People. I'm a simplifier at @symplur. +

67 Comments
  1. DrBeckerSchutte
    Ann Becker-Schutte - @DrBeckerSchutte01-09-2013

    Thank you for sharing this amazing visual of the changes in our healthcare system.

  2. colleen_young
    Colleen Young - @colleen_young01-10-2013

    I’d like to underline that merely having public conversations on social media does not ensure inclusivity. It requires strategic stewardship from key enablers. The founders of #bcsm @jodyms @stales @DrAttai have made a concerted effort to be all inclusive, inviting members from all sectors of the healthcare spectrum. Kudos and job well done!

  3. judylchan
    Judy - @judylchan01-25-2013

    Very interesting graphics. What did you use to identify the providers & patients?

    • audvin
      Audun Utengen - @audvin01-25-2013

      Hi Judy,

      Thank you. To identify providers and patients I used “human curation” :) Manual research.

      However, we have a very powerful tool at Symplur to identify U.S. physicians since we have linked thousands of their Twitter Profiles to their NPI number (National Provider Identification) so that we can get a much more trustworthy and richer dataset. Great for segmentation of physician behavior comparing specialties, locations etc.

      Audun

  4. lzipperer
    Lorri Zipperer - @lzipperer02-14-2013

    #DXerror chat today at 2pm ET to discuss role of social media as an opportunity to engage pateints and others in improving diagnostic error. Hope you folks can join!

Leave a Comment


  1. @audvin
    Audun Utengen – @audvinJanuary 7th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media – Twitter Visualized http://t.co/cczS3ZQq #hcsm #hcsmeu

  2. @sarahfraser
    Sarah Fraser – @sarahfraserJanuary 7th, 2013

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  3. @symplur
    Symplur – @symplurJanuary 7th, 2013

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  4. @thehealthmaven
    LeAnna J. Carey – @thehealthmavenJanuary 7th, 2013

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  7. @lisa_d_ot
    Lisa D OT – @lisa_d_otJanuary 7th, 2013

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  8. @emeraldschell
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  9. @hjluks
    Howard Luks MD – @hjluksJanuary 7th, 2013

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  10. @mtmdphd
    Mike Thompson, MDPhD – @mtmdphdJanuary 7th, 2013

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  11. @thedura01
    Ken – @thedura01January 7th, 2013

    Healthcare visualizations … Thanks to @symplur http://t.co/Gs2R0Wbx

  12. @kaneandfinkel
    Kane & Finkel – @kaneandfinkelJanuary 7th, 2013

    RT @symplur: The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media http://t.co/6C1GVVFx #hcsm #hcsmeu

  13. @stabilmobilrmt
    Michael Reoch – @stabilmobilrmtJanuary 7th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media – Twitter Visualized http://t.co/AARR41fR via @symplur

  14. @glassmatt
    Matt Glass – @glassmattJanuary 7th, 2013

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  15. @audvin
    Audun Utengen – @audvinJanuary 7th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media @jodyms @stales http://t.co/9V8hT5bq #bcsm #hcsmca

  16. @bcsmchat
    #BCSM Chat – @bcsmchatJanuary 7th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media @jodyms @stales http://t.co/9V8hT5bq #bcsm #hcsmca

  17. @stales
    Alicia C. Staley – @stalesJanuary 7th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media @jodyms @stales http://t.co/9V8hT5bq #bcsm #hcsmca

  18. @jodyms
    Jody Schoger – @jodymsJanuary 7th, 2013

    Wow,thank you! @audvin The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in #hcsm @jodyms @stales http://t.co/1MJeGgST #bcsm #hcsmca

  19. @audvin
    Audun Utengen – @audvinJanuary 7th, 2013

    :) RT @jodyms: Wow,thank you! @audvin The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in #hcsm @jodyms @stales http://t.co/9V8hT5bq

  20. @tmlfox
    Thomas M. Lee – @tmlfoxJanuary 7th, 2013

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  21. @futurofhealth
    HealthCare Solutions – @futurofhealthJanuary 7th, 2013

    The Flattening of #Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media http://t.co/wzCXRBmF #hcsm #hcsmeu #hcsmca

  22. @westr
    Robert West PhD – @westrJanuary 8th, 2013

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  23. @johnnosta
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  24. @johnnosta
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  26. @lilly_coi
    Lilly Clinical OI – @lilly_coiJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media @jodyms @stales http://t.co/9V8hT5bq #bcsm #hcsmca

  27. @katseyemedia
    Kathleen Poulos – @katseyemediaJanuary 8th, 2013

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  28. @drstevezonner
    Steve Zonner – @drstevezonnerJanuary 8th, 2013

    http://t.co/BtkwwXtX

  29. @sandnsurf
    Mike Cadogan – @sandnsurfJanuary 8th, 2013

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  30. @troutish
    Luke – @troutishJanuary 8th, 2013

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  31. @lyntonmanuel
    Lynton Manuel – @lyntonmanuelJanuary 8th, 2013

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  32. @angelazpeitia
    Angel Azpeitia – @angelazpeitiaJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media – Twitter Visualized http://t.co/lJ8kKnVV via @symplur

  33. @dreapadoirtas
    Domhnall Brannigan – @dreapadoirtasJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media – Twitter Visualized http://t.co/lJ8kKnVV via @symplur

  34. @theresestutz
    Therese Stutz – @theresestutzJanuary 8th, 2013

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  35. @angelazpeitia
    Angel Azpeitia – @angelazpeitiaJanuary 8th, 2013

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  36. @alarno
    Albert Arnó – @alarnoJanuary 8th, 2013

    Top story: The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare So… http://t.co/eXw32bEi, see more http://t.co/1FitKXym

  37. @gerdivk
    Gerdi Van Kerckhoven – @gerdivkJanuary 8th, 2013

    The open,public nature of Twitter provides a place where people can find a cross section of stakeholders in #healthcare http://t.co/emplZg4L

  38. @intersurgical
    Intersurgical – @intersurgicalJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media – Twitter Visualized http://t.co/rOTqGAer via @symplur

  39. @arjalali
    Ali R. Jalali – @arjalaliJanuary 8th, 2013

    Top story: The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare So… http://t.co/8ONLuZSc, see more http://t.co/2hKpHdwP

  40. @briansmcgowan
    Brian S. McGowan PhD – @briansmcgowanJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers w/ #HCSM http://t.co/Sn3TrBZq Great study of #BCSM to demonstrate power of #socialQI

  41. @socialqi
    Brian S. McGowan – @socialqiJanuary 8th, 2013

    Establishing a science to study new social graphs & impact on healthcare: http://t.co/zTAJvHq8 #socialQI #hcsmRnD

  42. @doccomltd
    Jonathan Bloor – @doccomltdJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers w/ #HCSM http://t.co/Sn3TrBZq Great study of #BCSM to demonstrate power of #socialQI

  43. @phydig
    PhysicianDigital – @phydigJanuary 8th, 2013

    Establishing a science to study new social graphs & impact on healthcare: http://t.co/zTAJvHq8 #socialQI #hcsmRnD

  44. @waroncancer
    ICAN – @waroncancerJanuary 8th, 2013

    Breast cancer social media, on the trial to bring patient and provider together http://t.co/nrkZUnQ8 #bcsm

  45. @cancerlikeme
    cancerlikeme – @cancerlikemeJanuary 8th, 2013

    Breast cancer social media, on the trial to bring patient and provider together http://t.co/nrkZUnQ8 #bcsm

  46. @lenstarnes
    Len Starnes – @lenstarnesJanuary 8th, 2013

    RT @BrianSMcGowan: The Flattening of Healthcare #HCSM http://t.co/n9LjiJfV Great study of #BCSM to demonstrate power of #socialQI #hcsmeu

  47. @mtmdphd
    Mike Thompson, MDPhD – @mtmdphdJanuary 8th, 2013

    Breast cancer social media, on the trial to bring patient and provider together http://t.co/nrkZUnQ8 #bcsm

  48. @cathimon
    Cathi Mon – @cathimonJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media – Twitter Visualized http://t.co/lJ8kKnVV via @symplur

  49. @emranswers
    Linda Lia – @emranswersJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of #Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers in Healthcare #SocialMedia via @Symplur http://t.co/18tzcpNz

  50. @practicefusions
    PracticeFusion CCN – @practicefusionsJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of #Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers in Healthcare #SocialMedia via @Symplur http://t.co/CrqeQJkN

  51. @jodyms
    Jody Schoger – @jodymsJanuary 8th, 2013

    MT @BrianSMcGowan: The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers w/ #HCSM http://t.co/2e75spHx …power of #socialQI #bcsm

  52. @jollyasinhappy
    April Jolly – @jollyasinhappyJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers in Healthcare Social Media http://t.co/s8CKNpNz

  53. @kristirholmes
    Kristi Holmes – @kristirholmesJanuary 8th, 2013

    Great piece on how SM can impact patient care: Breaking Down Barriers in Healthcare Social Media http://t.co/fmq2DVb7 #hcmktg

  54. @steph
    Steph Hollingsworth – @stephJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers in Healthcare Social Media http://t.co/upysd0AK via @symplur

  55. @dalegriffen
    Dale Griffen – @dalegriffenJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers in Healthcare Social Media http://t.co/upysd0AK via @symplur

  56. @jenmartinedu
    Jennifer A. Martin – @jenmartineduJanuary 8th, 2013

    RT @westr: Digital Medicine: The Flattening of Healthcare (Breaking Down Barriers in #HCSM) http://t.co/2mcGuqRK  #pm101 #s4pm #P2PHC via @…

  57. @alliance_health
    Alliance Health – @alliance_healthJanuary 8th, 2013

    Great visualizations of the people who make up patient communities via @symplur http://t.co/WeCf1cCw #epatient

  58. @drsteventucker
    Steven Tucker, MD – @drsteventuckerJanuary 8th, 2013

    Love this! The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in #hcsm @jodyms @stales http://t.co/Z8IwYjrd via @undrip

  59. @survivingmd
    Dr. Cary Presant – @survivingmdJanuary 8th, 2013

    Love this! The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in #hcsm @jodyms @stales http://t.co/Z8IwYjrd via @undrip

  60. @lionelreichardt
    Lionel REICHARDT – @lionelreichardtJanuary 8th, 2013

    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media – Twitter Visualized http://t.co/oQ4R0jpd via @symplur

  61. @
    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of Barriers in Healthcare Social Media – Twitter Visualized | Social Media in Medicine | Scoop.it – @February 19th, 2013

    [...] Twitter Visualized The Rise of Patient Communities on Twitter The Dynamics of a Twitter Patient Community – Network Centrality Analysis The Fl  [...]

  62. @
    The Flattening of Healthcare: Breaking Down of … – @April 12th, 2013

    [...] n the two previous posts in this series of Twitter visualizations, we’ve looked at the growth of patient communities and the dynamics and centralityof one of them. This time we will take a deeper look at the people who make up these communities.From looking at the visualization below, one can think of them as virtual communities set in space like constellations of stars but with people orbiting one another. The laws of physics still apply, but gravity has become a function of conversations. Conversation is gravity. Boundaries are broken down. Traditional barriers like location, profession, demographics, physical abilities and conditions will not stop you from joining in. The world is flattening. And because many traditional hierarchies and perceptions are eroding as a consequence of healthcare social media, new types of communication and communities are emerging. Twitter is the new melting pot of ideas, people, and disruptive innovation.  [...]