Kathie Melocco - Health Activism

Blog dedicated to Social Justice and Health and Wellbeing Activism

June 02, 2013

The Rise Of Patient Health Communities On Twitter

Web 2.0 and health 2.0 are converging to become one of the most powerful shifts in health and human behavior in the last generation.  At its heart is the fact that patients are people, and that people are social.  They want to know their healthcare professional, and want to both seek the opinions of others and share their own opinions.  In this context patients are rightfully taking ownership of their healthcare decisions via actively seeking information and options on the web. 
If you doubt the power of social media to influence health communities then this visualisation may just very well change your mind and cause you to say we need to be more proactive in 2013. It certainly was what inspired me to champion the participatory medicine movement here in Australia and next year we will host the first Blogging Conference known as Healthivate specifically for these growing online communities and bloggers. There are a limited number of industry tickets available if you would like to network with these powerful groups. (Conference Hashtag is #hivate)

But for now let's discuss how health conversations are occurring on Twitter. For over 2 years, Symplur has collected health conversations on Twitter. From a humble start, their infrastructure has grown and matured to scale with the tremendous growth of healthcare social media. They are now approaching 150 million health tweets in our database which they analyze and categorize by thousands of variables. And similarly with other repositories of big data, their greatest challenge is to figure out how to present insights from such a vast dataset in a meaningful way. The answer is often found in visualizations.
What you see in the video below is a 22-month timeline of about 2,000 different health communities and topics each visualized as a bubble. In total, about 100 million healthcare tweets are represented in this visual. The green dots symbolize patient-centric topics, while pink encompasses more professional/provider topics. Larger bubbles signify larger volume of conversations within that community. The data is visualized dynamically over the this 22-month time period starting September 2010.

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