Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Healthcare Social Media Summit: Social Media and Healthcare Synergized in Cebu

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Cebu witnessed the gathering of several healthcare professionals and social media enthusiasts as they all converge at the Radisson Blu hotel in Cebu for the 1st Healthcare Social Media Summit last February 21, 2015.

The summit aims to strengthen the use of social media as a useful tool towards a more widespread, immediate and reliable information dissemination and feedback of healthcare goals and objectives. Primarily supported by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), the HealthXPh group of healthcare professionals, who also dabble in social media, organized this summit to encourage active participation and interaction among the people through social media as well as establish appropriate guidelines on the proper and responsible use and etiquette.

It is without any doubt that social media has changed the way healthcare professionals communicate with their patients which presents both opportunities and challenges for the medical profession. We've heard inquiries on how much information should be shared and what should remain confidential and private to maintain a professional relationship with the patients.We've witnessed how social media has benefited some in their efforts to surpass and go through life's obstacles and limitations. We've heard people pour out their personal emotions so they could share their life's lessons.

Several heads of agencies and experts from the healthcare profession discussed about engaging topics that many of the participants couldn't help but thrown in a lot of inquiries.


Dr. Merl Opena from the PCHRD-DOST gabve the welcome remarks in the absence of Dr. Jaime Montoya, and Dr. Minerva Calimag gave the from the Philippine Medical Asociation (PMA) gave the inspirational message to start the event.

First set of speakers were Dr. Noel Pingoy of the General Santos Doctors Hospital who talkede about Social media and Medical Professionalism. Reacting to his talk were Dr. Teodoro Herbosa from the UP College of Medicine and Dr. Anthony Leachon from the Philippine College of Physicians. We've learned from the speakers that through geographic boundaries have been brought down through the use of social media and that professionalism has been changing and evolving because of it. The digital communication of the new generation has provided us with many platforms to share information and interact conveniently with the people who can quickly provide the much-needed feedback to help healthcare professionals become more efficient with their services.

Dr. Helen Madamba, a new member of #HealthXPh, introduced the crowd to the group and the people that were responsible in establishing it. The group organized a weekly chat group which discuss about the impact of social media on healthcare among many other topics. It was organized by Dr. Remo-Tito Aguilar, Dr Ma. Gia Sison, Dr. Iris Thiele Isip Tan, and Dr. Narciso Tapia. A signing of the #HealthXPh manifesto followed.


The later sessions divided the attendees into two tracks namely Track 1: Protecting Patient Privacy & Confidentiality on Social Media and Track 2: Social Media and Health Promotion. I chose track 2 composed of Dr. Ma. Gia Sison as moderator and with Dr. Richard Mata, Fatima Villena, Dr. Katherine Mercado, and Stef Dela Cruz.

What was interesting to take note from their discussion is the substantial cost involved in implementing a social media campaign. We all should know that it should be more affordable as compared to the traditional way of using print, TV and radio, and a lot more convenient in monitoring its influence due to many online tools that can measure reach and provide statistics that we can use to evaluate.

Mr. Pat Rich from the Canadian Medical association, was the special guest who talked about Social Media and Healthcare: The Way Forward. My question addressed to him was to let us know how much information shoudl we share in social media and if we need to create two accounts so we could separate our personal from business or work obligations and limitations. Basically he advised to just use one account but to think smart before posting or tweeting so we can avoid regrets later.

Track 3: Social Media and Health Professions and Track 4: Patient Stories on Social Media are two more topics where the crowd was divided into two groups. I was supposed to join Track 3 but decided to stay for Track 4 since the room we are situated in right now is the main room for all other activities. I was taking photos and my spot was already the best one in the room.

I was lucky I stayed because I got to hear lots of testimonials about real-life experiences involving failed health, and how the speakers survived from it and how they continue to fight supported by many people because of social media. Many of us were surprised that our speakers are survivors of cancer and other health challenges. It was a sure eye-opener for many.

The later part of the day was focused on answering more inquiries from the participants. It was also admirable that some would not only ask questions but share their own opinions and strategies, recommendations and insights for the benefit of the other participants.

Thank you to PCHRD-DOST for inviting me to this event. It was truly informative and honorable to be part of this momentous event that will surely bring forth more engagement from the healthcare professionals and their patients. Social Media has indeed phenomenally elevated our communication powers to the highest peak that we are already reaching a point to practice more professionalism and accountability for every action we make online.

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