Online Is Just Courtship…

Joining the Community - Susanne NilssonBlog post by Bernadette Keefe

In my earlier days of social media (specifically #hcsm -healthcare social media) I felt that extending the healthcare information reach implied further engagement ONLINE. After all, with so many edifying healthcare tweet chats, a plethora of compelling healthcare conferences, multiple supportive and informative patient/disease chats, and a virtual banquet of really smart, passionate people to engage with: What’s There Not to Love; So Just Extend, Post, Link, Chat and Tweet Away!

All the above remains true and is, gloriously, ever increasing. Granted in some areas of healthcare social media there is a lack (perhaps lag) with respect to MDs on Twitter, but I am convinced that will change soon. With respect to the ultimate potential of healthcare social media, the sky is the limit.

The above notwithstanding, the healthcare social media community is a very small piece of the populous, albeit an intimate one. The majority of the citizenry, the rest of the patient population, is not participating in healthcare social media and is not receiving the benefits of a connected and informed healthcare community. There are countless reasons why this is so.

Firstly, 30 % of US population does NOT have broadband access, despite it being 2014! Even for those that do have access, given the economic pressures many face, they may have no time or limited inclination (between multiple jobs) to surf the web, or engage in social media for health information. Added to this: a significant percentage of US population is of low general literacy and a much greater percentage has poor health literacy. Finally, a growing percentage of our population is aging and may not be wish to get online or learn new online skills.

Therefore, this evening, I want us to brainstorm about how we, as active members of the healthcare social media community can bring a piece of what happens here to the OFFLINE world. The majority of the population is waiting for healthcare information and healthcare guidance. It’s Time to Move From Courtship to In Real Life Dating. Let’s Do This!

Join us for the weekly #hcldr tweetchat on Tuesday September 2, 2014 at 8:30pm Eastern (for your local time click here) as we discuss the following topics:

  • T1: How would you describe the benefits of HC #SoMe to your friends, family, who are/will be patients someday?
  • T2: How would you bring online #SoMe benefits/info to offline communities? Describe as many ways as you can.
  • T3: What do you believe are the barriers in sharing the ONLINE experience with the uninitiated?
  • T4: What specifically will you plan to do over next month to extend the reach In-Real-Life (offline)?

Note: This chat topic was inspired by a truly excellent #LCSM chat held earlier this month on the same topic. That chat was so constructive, on point and fruitful, I wanted to bring the same topic to our #hcldr community. Many thanks to @lungcancerfaces @jackwestmd and @LCSMchat for the inspiration.

70% US Households now have broadband THAT MEANS 30% DO NOT !
74% Internet Users >Use Social Media Sites
19% of Internet Users >Use Twitter, mostly under age 50

Health Literacy: (US)
12% :Proficient
53%: Intermediate
21%: Basic
14%: Below Basic
77M Adults in US Have Basic or Below Basic Health Literacy (probably NOT able to discern prescription directions on pill bottle)
Remember we still have segments of our adult population who neither read nor write, although they could be taught.


“Over 70% of US Households Now Have Broadband Internet Access”, Emil Protalinski, The Next Web, December 9 2013,, accessed August 29 2014

“Social Networking Fact Sheet I”, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project,, accessed August 29 2014

“America’s Health Literacy:Why We Need Accessible Health Information”, US Department of Health and Human Services, 2008,, accessed August 29 2014

Image Credit

Joining the Community – Susanne Nilsson


  1. Great topic Bernadette and I will be sorry to miss it, but I will be on a plane. I met a great woman last week who has started a business in Toronto called Mom’s Computer Help. Her motto is “Helping You Get The Hang of It” She gives computer instruction and is aiming her service particularly at elder adults.
    I think that it is easy for inexperienced people to reach a dead end, or to keep getting viruses because they don’t know enough and need some support. So that’s one person who is trying.

  2. Reblogged this on Online in Eastern Iowa.

  3. Nice article it is true that social media has its limitation especially in case health care information. Most of the people on social media are engaged in some entertaining stuff. There are very less number of people out there who looks for some health care info, so the health care information must be taken to next level beyond the social media so that it can reach to people who need it most.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. This may be a classic example of glass half full or half empty. Look at all the opportunity we have to reach people digitally!

    A 2014 Pew study reported that 60% of Americans have smart phones and another 30% have cell phones (that means text messaging, Twitter access, and other limited social access). Even if people don’t have access to the Internet through mobile, 85% of Americans have email. That means that even an elderly gentleman with no computer skills can receive a YouTube link to an informative video that plays automatically or is embedded in the email newsletter.

  5. Thank You So Much ,Suzanne, for your kind comments~ Precisely! Was inspired by recent,inspiring #LCSM chat ~ moderated by Dr Jack West ( @jackwestmd )~ The #hcldr group will be brainstorming about the serious issue of bringing information & promoting engagement & empowerment in the wider, majority OFFLINE community. Please join us if you can or at least take a look at the transcript which will be available @symplur @healthhashtags at 9:30pm after the chat.
    Very Best Wishes,
    Bernadette Keefe MD

  6. […] See original post site here. […]

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