Doing Research in Healthcare Social Media

All of us want to make healthcare better.

We believe that better healing models can be created from better understanding. Better understanding comes from the processing of knowledge, and knowledge is based on data. A small but growing piece of this data comes from healthcare conversations taking place on social media.

A willingness to listen is all that is required for the process of improvement to begin. Without a willingness to listen, the connecting of dots, the creation of relationships, the building of trust, the process of change and healing can not take place.

Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the relationship between patient and provider, and much focus has already been given to the need for listening in that intimate circle. But it is not the only place where personal stories, deep knowledge and data are being shared. A very large data set of public healthcare conversations have emerged as the basis for a growing number of research projects over the last couple of years.

I believe that one of the greatest forces for good in this area is the flattening of healthcare, the process of breaking down traditional boundaries. Those who stand to gain the most from this process are those whose voices have been underrepresented. Among these are patients and caregivers, and whatever can lift those voices up, I’m for.

Many share the view that social media is changing healthcare in dramatic ways, empowering patients and caregivers by removing superfluous hierarchies. Much of that is happening in the public space and is recorded in these data sets. Therefore all research conducted on this data can only further strengthen their voices.

This is why it’s been so exciting to have had over 60 individual researchers with access to our research platform Symplur Signals over the last few months. Combined they have had access to 249 healthcare topics and 76,257,078 healthcare related tweets. They’ve conducted research in many diverse subjects including mental health, family medicine, prescription opioids, self-harm, diabetes, information dissemination, medical education, obesity, vaccination, and health policy as part of Stanford Medicine X | Symplur Signals Research Challenge. This partnership with Stanford Medicine X was designed to spark scholarly research activity in healthcare social media, with the implicit understanding that this can only be a benefit for patients. Stanford Medicine X saw the fruit of their work for patients a few days ago at the White House.

We’re incredibly excited for this emerging area of research and for how it may benefit us all by further understanding.

For all the researchers participating, thank you for your hard work!

Audun Utengen

Audun Utengen - @audvin

Job to be done: Connect the dots in healthcare social media. Co-founder of @symplur.

What do you get when you combine the world's largest database of social healthcare conversations with the world's largest database of healthcare influencers and power it all by machine learning?

The most fun and effortless path to understanding healthcare social media.

Symplur Signals is used by pharma, medical device companies, governments and research institutions.