Tag Archives: government 2.0

Crowdsourcing Our Health – Using Social Media to Educate and Unite the Public

March 23, 2009

35 Comments

“Social media on the Internet are empowering, engaging, and educating consumers and providers in health care.  This movement, known as Health 2.0, can be defined as: the use of social software and its ability to promote collaboration between patients, their caregivers, medical professionals, and other stakeholders in health.”

— Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, M.A., M.H.S.A, THINK-Health

Three different things happened to me last week that got me thinking about this concept of Health 2.0.  First, my colleague Jacque Brown started participating in the weekly Healthcomm chats on Twitter, I attended a meeting with the Center for Health Transformation, and I read this fantastic post by Ben Parr on Mashable.

Americans are increasingly relying on the Internet to find health information and connect with other people in similar situations.  According to the April

Source: iCrossing, How America Searches: Health and Wellness

Source: iCrossing, How America Searches: Health and Wellness

2008, “The Wisdom of Patients: Healthcare Meets Online Social Media,” report, more than 60% of Americans have used the Internet to find health information, and as of January 2008, the Internet rivaled physicians as the leading source for health information.  The 2008 Edelman Trust Barometer also determined that people tend to trust “a person like me” more than authority figures from business, government, and media.

Combine this with the fact that research shows that a stable and supportive social network improves health outcomes for people with a wide range of conditions, from the common cold to cancer, and the potential for social media to fundamentally change how we view our healthcare, how we view our health, is phenomenal.

Social media is bridging the gap between health and healthcare.  Imagine a world where your doctor calls you to make sure everything is ok after noticing an increase in the number of your Facebook status updates where you said you have a headache.  What if you could screen new doctors by viewing past surgeries of theirs on YouTube or by reading their blogs?  What if your entire medical history was available, securely, online?   Imagine being able to easily track, monitor, and research every illness, pain, cold, and headache you’ve ever had – you think we’d come across some interesting (and possibly life-saving) trends??

Through websites like Google Health, WebMD, and PatientsLikeMe, initiatives like Twit2Fit and the weekly HealthComm chats, and many other examples, we’re already starting to realize some of these benefits.  But to truly transform our country’s health, our government needs to get involved as well.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ new Center for New Media is a good start, but it’s but one small step toward Health 2.0.  Before we can truly realize Health 2.0 (can’t we think of term that doesn’t use the “2.0” moniker?), there are several very valid issues, along with several perceived barriers.

  • Privacy – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule provides federal protections for personal health information; However, personal health records (PHRs) shared outside of covered entities online are not protected by HIPAA.
  • Security – 13% of respondents to a Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) survey revealed their facility had experienced a data breach.
  • AccessibilitySection 508 requires that Federal agencies’ electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Resistance to Change – Healthcare is perhaps the oldest, largest, and most complex institution in the United States, and stakeholders from every aspect of the industry will have to adapt to a new way of doing business.

All very real issues, right?  However, as much as some people would like us to believe, these issues are NOT barriers to Health 2.0.  Our Government can and has overcome these issues before, but for it to continue, we must address these issues first. This is what Jacque likes to call the four stages of Health 2.0 denial.

  1. This is an invasion of privacy! – However, the “entities” mentioned above are ensuring HIPAA compliance and the caretakers who will more than likely be on the receiving end of PHR sharing already know of an individual’s medical conditions. Google has taken additional steps to ensure privacy by only making links available through the direct email address through which the notification was sent and making the links expire after 30 days.
  2. What about information security?!? – If the intelligence community can use social media to communicate and collaborate about our nation’s intelligence and we’re comfortable with our entire banking records now available online, I think we can figure out how to make our health records accessible AND secure.
  3. What about people who don’t have the internet? – 80% of adults in the US have mobile phones, and some countries are already piloting government-provided phones for health reasons.
  4. But this is just plain scary – When I first logged on to Google Health, I was overwhelmed at seeing my mortality displayed in front of me. Likewise, physicians and other groups are used to doing things the way they feel comfortable. Even if we do see the value in social media, it’s a transformational change that is going to take time and both formal and informal support to embrace.

Health 2.0 isn’t going to happen overnight – it’s going to take the time, dedication, resources, and cooperation of the general public, our government, Big Pharma, insurance providers, first responders, caregivers, and many others to make it happen.

If you’re interested in learning more about Health 2.0, there are much more qualified people than me who are out there making this a reality – I’m just someone who’s keenly interested in doing what I can to make it happen.

Additional Resources:

There are MANY more – the links above are simply my go-to resources.  If you have more resources, please add them here in the comments so that others may benefit too!

Continue reading...

Twenty Theses for Government 2.0, Cluetrain Style

February 15, 2009

130 Comments

I’ve fulfilled one of my social media resolutions for 2009, and have recently re-read the Cluetrain Manifesto.  As I mentioned in that post, I always feel so much better about the work that I do when I look at it through the lens of the 95 theses laid out in Cluetrain.  This is even more true now.  Ever since President Obama’s “Transparency and Open Government” memo was issued a few weeks ago, it seems that every one of our clients is asking about social media.  They all want to know how/if social media can help them become more transparent, participatory, and collaborative.  They all want to know what they need to do to comply with the new Administration’s goals of transparency.  Inevitably, this increased interest has brought its fair share of social media carpetbaggers and alleged Government 2.0 gurus, but it has also done an incredible job of bringing together real-life Government employees with contractors and consultants for a common goal.

Just as the Cluetrain laid out 95 theses that described the new global conversation taking place via the Internet, here are 20 theses (I’m not nearly as ambitious as the Cluetrain authors) for carpetbaggers, gurus, civil servants, contractors, and anyone else interested in Government 2.0.  There are undoubtedly many many more that could be added to this list and I encourage you to add any that you think of in the comments.

  1. The risks of social media are greatly outweighed by the risks of NOT doing social media.
  2. Your Government agency/organization/group/branch/division is not unique.  You do not work in a place that just can’t just use social media because your data is too sensitive.  You do not work in an environment where social media will never work.  Your challenges, while unique to you, are not unique to the government.
  3. You will work with skeptics and other people who want to see social media fail because the transparency and authenticity will expose their weaknesses.
  4. You will work with people who want to get involved with social media for all the wrong reasons.  They will see it as an opportunity to advance their own their careers, to make more money, or to show off.  These people will be more dangerous to your efforts than the biggest skeptic.
  5. Younger employees are not necessarily any more knowledgeable about social media than older employees.  Stop assuming that they are.
  6. Before going out and hiring any social media “consultants,” assume that there is already someone within your organization who is actively using social media and who is very passionate about it.  Find them, use them, engage them.  These are the people who will make or break your foray into social media.
  7. Mistakes can and will be made (a lot).  Stop trying to create safeguards to eliminate the possibility of mistakes and instead concentrate on how to deal with them when they are made.
  8. Information security is a very real and valid concern.  Do NOT take this lightly.
  9. Policies are not written in stone.  With justification, passion, and knowledge, policies and rules can and should be changed.  Sometimes it’s as easy as asking, but other times will require a knockdown, drag-out fight.  Both are important.
  10. Be humble.  You don’t know everything so stop trying to pretend that you do.  It’s ok to be wrong.
  11. But, be confident.  Know what you know and don’t back down.  You will be challenged by skeptics and others who do not care and/or understand social media.  Do not let them discourage you.
  12. There are true social media champions throughout the government.  Find them.  Talk to them.  Learn from them.
  13. Government 2.0 is not a new concept.  It’s getting so much attention now because social media has given a voice to the ambitious, the innovative, and the creative people within the government.
  14. Social media is not about the technology but what the technology enables.
  15. Social media is not driven by the position, the title, or the department, it’s driven by the person.  Stop trying to pidgeon-hole into one team or department, and instead think of a way to bring together people from across your organization.
  16. Instead of marketing your social media capabilities, skills, experience, platforms, software, etc. to the government, why don’t you try talking with them?  An honest conversation will be remembered for far longer than a PowerPoint presentation.
  17. Today’s employees will probably spend five minutes during the workday talking to their friends on Facebook or watching the latest YouTube video.  Today’s employees will also probably spend an hour at 10:00 at night answering emails or responding to a work-related blog post.  Assume that your employees are good people who want to do the right thing and who take pride in their work.
  18. Agency Secretaries and Department Heads are big boys and girls.  They should be able to have direct conversations with their workforce without having to jump through hoops to do so.
  19. Transparency, participatory, collaborative – these terms do not refer only to the end state; they refer to the process used to get there as well.  It’s ok to have debates, arguments, and disagreements about the best way to go about achieving “Government 2.0.”  Diverse perspectives, opinions, and beliefs should be embraced and talked about openly.
  20. It’s not enough to just allow negative feedback on your blog or website, you also have to do something about it.  This might mean engaging in a conversation about why person X feels this way or (gasp!) making a change to an outdated policy.  Don’t just listen to what the public has to say, you have to also care about it too.

The technology that is currently driving social media will change, but the principles of participation, transparency, and collaboration will not.  You can either jump on the Government 2.0 cluetrain or get hit by it.  Which one will you be?

*thanks to Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger for inspiring this post with their book, the Cluetrain Manifesto.

Continue reading...

Social Media Isn’t Always the Answer

December 23, 2008

30 Comments

As one of Booz Allen’s social media leads, I’m thrilled to see more and more of my government clients starting to ask questions about social media and if/how it might help them.  I love logging into Twitter and seeing so many different conversations centered around Government 2.0.  I love thinking about the potential that social media has in fundamentally changing the way our government operates.  I also love telling my clients that they’re not ready for social media.

Let me explain.

I’ve seen Intellipedia, TSA’s Evolution of Security blog, DoDLive, the DoD’s Blogger’s Roundtable, FEMA’s YouTube channel, GovLoop, and many other examples of “Government 2.0.”  I’ve also seen plenty of failed blogs, dormant wikis, and other failed attempts at using social media.  The reasons for failed social media range from the obvious (ghostwriting a blog and not allowing comments) to the not so obvious (middle managers not allowing wiki contributions without first getting them approved).  However, these are simply symptoms of a larger issue at work.

Here’s the thing – unless your organization is ready for transparency and authenticity, and has instilled a culture of sharing, you’re going to have a lot of trouble successfully spreading social media.  This is where I often tell my clients to take a step back from the tools of social media and focus more on the processes of social media.  I compare this type of thinking to a football team that goes out and drafts really talented receivers, but stick them into an offense that’s focused on running the ball.  The receivers (social media) end up failing not necessarily because they’re bad, they end up failing because they were placed into an offense (the organizational culture) that wasn’t optimized for them.

You see, social media isn’t about the technology – it’s about what the technology enables.  And even if your organization is ready for the tools, it may very well not be ready for what those tools will bring.  Before diving into the world of social media, take a step back and see if your organizational culture and internal processes will support what social media will enable.

  1. Are employees discouraged from contacting people outside of their chain of command?
  2. Are employees discouraged from challenging authority?
  3. Is risk-taking rewarded or punished?
  4. Are employees rewarded for collaborating with other colleagues or for authoring/producing original work?
  5. Do your employees have regular access to the Intranet?
  6. Does your leadership value the feedback of employees?
  7. Are employees prohibited from speaking externally without prior permission?
  8. Is the contribution and sharing of intellectual capital part of the employees’ regular routine?
  9. What’s more valued, entrepreneurship or following orders?
  10. Do employees derive more value from networking with colleagues or from using the Intranet?

Asking these (and there are many more – this is just a sampling) questions will help your organization (offense) be prepared for what social media (receivers) will enable.

Continue reading...

Stop the Posturing About Government 2.0 and Do It Already

December 14, 2008

54 Comments

Stand Out and Do Something!

Stand Out and Do Something!

It’s about time.  It’s time to stop talking about theories of Government 2.0.  Time to stop predicting how the Obama administration is going to use social media.  Time to stop whining about all of the challenges involved with bringing social media to the government.  Time to stop the boundless optimism about the potential that you’re seeing.   Time to stop patting ourselves on the back.  Time to step out of the echo chamber of the social media blogosphere.   It’s time to start doing.

I think most of my readers would agree with me that social media is here to stay.  The technology can and will change, but the authenticity and relationships that the technology enables isn’t going anywhere.  Our government has no choice but to start moving more and more toward social media.  We’re already seeing it with Intellipedia, with change.gov, with the TSA’s blog – within virtually every government organization, social media is at least being discussed.  My company has clients across the federal government, and I could get a meeting with pretty much any of them just by saying that I lead our social media practice and I’d like to discuss how their organization could take advantage of social media.  The point is that there’s demand for social media expertise in the public sector.  Everyone is curious, everyone wants to know what all the buzz is about, and everyone is looking for the right answers.

Our time is now.  It’s time to start doing.  If you work for the federal government or for a government contractor, there are opportunities galore for you.  If you’re sitting in your cubicle reading this, just counting the minutes till you can leave for the day, this is your chance.  Social media and the government is your opportunity to stand out and do something to effect real change in our government.

Don’t tell me it’s too hard or that your boss doesn’t know YouTube from an iPod.  Those are excuses, not reasons.  If YouTube is blocked where you work, get it unblocked.  Write a white paper justifying why it shouldn’t be blocked.  Meet with your boss about it.  Meet with your boss’s boss about it.  Start a blog where you talk about it.  Volunteer to give a brown bag presentation to your office.  Just DO something!  Take the initiative and work on changing how your organization works – don’t just sit there sulking, saying, “I wish we could do social media here, but we can’t even get on Facebook so there’s no use.”  Bringing social media to your organization isn’t something that happens from 9-5.  It happens from 5-9, after everyone else has gone home.

I know it’s not easy.  In fact, it’s going to be REALLY hard.  Hard, but definitely not impossible.  You’re going to face a lot of opposition.  You’re going to encounter a lot of nay-sayers.  You’re going to have to work a lot of hours.  You’re going to have to endure a lot of rejection.  Hell, you’ll probably get reprimanded or even fired.

More than likely though, you’ll become recognized.  You’ll be noticeable.  You’ll be in demand.  Most importantly, you’ll make a difference.

Social media and government started not with some policy or memo from the senior leadership, but from regular people sitting in a cubicle who saw an opportunity and decided to do something about it.  They didn’t see a policy prohibiting blogging and say, “oh well, I guess that ends that.”  No, they pulled together briefings on why blogging was needed.  They found examples of others who were doing it.  They told anyone who would listen about the power of blogging.  They got meetings with his bosses.  They eventually changed the policy.

It’s time for you to be that guy and to step up, take the initiative and not let red tape and bureaucracy stop you.   Don’t accept no as an answer and don’t let a couple unenlightened colleagues stop your drive to effect change.   Stand out from the crowd and actually do something about it.

*Image courtesy of Flickr user Paul Likes Pics

Continue reading...