Over time, this blog has been focused on when, how, and where social media (SocMed) could impact healthcare. THis time, I am writing a short post focused on another benefit that has arisen out of social media engagement.
I am currently in California, attending the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM)’s Practice on Conference Improvement. I don’t have any personal connections with this part of the state, and given the conference’s location in a tourist-focused area there is not much here for me to do outside the meeting. To be honest, I would never have come here if not for this conference. Normally, then, all I would have done would have been to attend the meeting sessions, and then spend a lot of time in my hotel room. I’m fairly bad at mingling, networking, and the like.
This time, though, I mentioned on Twitter that I was coming here. As a result of my ongoing conversations on Twitter–whether in the context of organized Twitter chats, or on the fly–folks in the area contacted me to meet up in real life.
Ben Miller (@miller7) and I co-presented a talk on SocMed at this meeting, so we met up on arrival. Of note, Ben and I met on Twitter, and our ongoing collaborations (talks, the OccupyHealthcare Project, etc) grew out of our SocMed connection…before we had ever met in person.
During the first day of the meeting we met Jay Lee (@FamilyDocWonk), someone we had both been in touch with for nearly a year online. Jay joined us later that night for a tweet-up with Gregg Masters (@2HealthGuru) and Fred Trotter (@FredTrotter) during which we spent a lot of time discussing the nature of the OccupyHealthcare movement…and brainstorming how each of us can contribute to the cause.
This morning, Jay met Ben and I again as we were joined by Mark Harmel (@MarkHarmel). Mark is a photographer and an MPH student, and we had an active discussion abthat opportunities to participate in healthcare reform and system redesign.
Ben, Jay and I went to lunch together, joined by faculty and residents from the residency program where Jay teaches and practices. From this meeting I might have found a resource to help identify physicians who can help in the international healthcare project I help lead.
Finally, tonight Ben and I are having dinner with Carmen Gonzalez (@crgonzalez). I have shared this blog with Carmen and Mark Dimor (@MarksPhone), and have not met either of them in person. I’ll finally remedy that…halfway.
Before I was involved in SocMed, this meeting would have been ho-hum…if I had come at all. Now, I can say that I have met new real-life friends, have strengthened ties with others, and have made connections and discussed new projects that will keep me busy–and thinking–for some time.
One of the criticisms of SocMed is the belief that connections made here are broad, but shallow. I would argue that the breadth of the connections we make via SocMed allows us to interact with people we would otherwise never meet, and that these interactions can develop into meaningful collaborations and friendships.