Social Media as Healthcare’s Town Square


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What a summer so far! At the speed of light, the world watches the Olympics as the epitome of sport while at the same time watching American politics turned on its head in a new paradigm (regardless of your political persuasions). What’s this have to do with Healthcare, Social Media, & Town Squares? Glad you asked!

It’s old news to any of us that our old (seemingly slow) modes of communication, connection, creating value, and learning have been shattered and rebuilt. The town square as an exemplar for connections is long gone. Or is it? You know better! It’s been moved but it’s still there, vibrant as ever, reflecting the flavor and tastes of each community. Things do seem to move at the speed of light, but you need to look deeper to find the places where people still stop and meet.

When you meander into 21st century healthcare town squares sprinkled across blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Medium, LinkedIn and so many more, you’re as inundated as anyone first walking into the 1559 square in Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting above.

The motivations for meeting and talking to others haven’t changed either. Some search for commerce, others for learning/understanding, still more for belonging, a few looking for kindred spirits to build something new, and some to grieve.

Just recently, the healthcare town hall came together to share the news of a friend’s passing and then again to grieve. An example of the power of real connections (never call these relationships virtual since they are as real as the ones in 1559) is seen here in this eloquent and touching piece by Mandi Bishop @MandiBPro:

For Jess Jacobs: Friend, Fierce Patient Advocate, and Mythical Unicorn


(Datapalooza, 5/10/16. Jess Jacobs, in green checkered shirt, discharged from the hospital 1 PM, picture taken 5 PM. Illness couldn’t stop her. It couldn’t even slow her down much. She took it with a smile. That’s who she was. @ @ @ + more!)

We see shining examples like Jess Jacobs and Dave deBronkart, better known as @ePatientDave all around the healthcare town square. Regular (amazing) people, friends and neighbors, sharing what they know, what they have learned. Real connections. The stories of the where, why, and how for Jess and Dave are worth every second of your time. You’ll come away richer, happier, and ready to help yourself, help others, change healthcare, accomplish whatever brought you to the town square.

Is this modern town square safe, easy, always clear cut? No, no, and no. Just like the painting above, we see the wonderful opportunities mixed with the less desirable connections. Social media in healthcare is no panacea or guarantee of finding what you are looking for; but, and it’s a big but, you have the chance to visit hundreds of town squares in a month vs just the one closest to your cottage. The value of social media in healthcare is subtle and requires the same care you exercise when you choose whom to engage at the weekly round-table down the way.

People are essentially good and that’s a super starting point for your exploration.


#hcldr has been and hopefully remains one of the many safe places to share ideas, education, joy, and sorrow for a wide ranging community of friends and neighbors across the world. Some are people with an interest in their own health, others might be clinicians that seek to treat and help those in need of care, policy wonks that seek to right the system, counselors that seek to soothe, builders that seek to create, agents of motivation that shake up the status quo, and the list goes on. Certainly you can add your motivation to this list. And even just saying HI is reason enough.

Let’s work to digest what this all means to each of us, regardless of who and where we are. Everyone in the town square has something to add, a lesson to share, even if they don’t know it. Some areas of the town square are serious and you’ll feel you need an advanced degree to participate. Not so! Say hi, and see what happens. Remember, friends and neighbors. Other areas of the square will feel casual, carefree, filled with chat – you might feel shy with nothing to say and that’s OK, lurk and listen. The folks will remember you and you, them.

The value of connections, the value of meeting at the town square to see what happens.

Please join us on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 8:30pm Eastern (for your local time click here) as we discuss the following topics:

  • T1: Is social media in all its incarnations truly a vehicle for real connectedness and results? Examples?
  • T2: What first brought you to the healthcare town square? What keeps you now?
  • T3: Are people essentially good? What implications does this have for the serious dysfunction we find in healthcare?
  • T4: What needs to happen to allow all populations access to the new town square? Who needs to do it? Why?



Anne Frank quote (as translated), Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, Anne Frank, July 15, 1944.

Accessed August 14, 2016

For Jess Jacobs: Friend, Fierce Patient Advocate, and Mythical Unicorn, Medium, Mandi Bishop, August 13, 2016.

Accessed August 14, 2016


Image Credit

BRUEGHEL, Pieter the Younger


  1. ebukstel · · Reply

    Reblogged this on Edward Bukstel.

  2. ebukstel · · Reply

    This is an excellent and timely topic. One item that argues against the “Town Square” concept is the anonymity of the providers (and probably a good thing). Even Jess Jacobs referred to her providers as Hospital x, Y, and Doctor A, B. It seems the professionalism of patient advocates may allow poor providers to walk through the “Town Square” with a mask.

  3. […] on Twitter, #hcldr, LinkedIn, and everything in between are our community. We have talked about “Social Media as Healthcare’s Town Square” back in August 2016. We share and grow from the connections that are, at the end of the day, all […]

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