A Healthcare Leader’s Story Of Responsibility In Social Media

Over the past week there have been a number of articles, comments, and responses that have made me consider the power of social media and our responsibility as leaders in the world of healthcare. I took time to pause and consider my own personal goals for 2014, my responsibility as a leader, and the importance of social media in my daily life.

Here are the articles I want to reference in my post:

Article posted on the Huffington Post Healthy Living Section on 1.9.2014. The title of the article was: “Cancer: An Inevitable Stage Of Life.” (article here) It was written by Bill Couzens (bio here) who is founder of the organization, LessCancer (organization site here).

1.13.2014 there was a new article published on the Huffington Post Healthy Living Section by Dr. Cary A Presant. He is a practicing Hematologist and Oncologist in Southern California and is also a clinical professor associated with USC Keck School of Medicine. (bio is here) The title of the article is “With Fewer Cancers Deaths, What Should You Do Now?” (full article here)

Then there is the piece that was written by Bill Keller on 1.12.2014 in the New York Times as an Op Ed entitled “Heroic Measures.” (original article here)

There are a few items that trouble me in all of the articles. However, since one of my stretch goals is to focus on what is possible instead of what is broken, I will do my best to take that approach. (here is a list of my 2014 goals)

2014 Goal Number 1: Be impeccable with your word. The wonderful Stacey Tinianov (@coffeemommy) reminded me of the difference between prevention and risk reduction in cancer in her wonderful article entitled “More Than A Semantics Story: Prevention vs. Risk Reduction vs. Screening” (Original post found here) at one of the first LCSM tweet chats (click here to learn more about LCSM) after the first of the year in 2014.

The words we choose matter. We all have the ability to select a specific set of words, add all of the words together, and hopefully those words will equate to a story that conveys meaning and a positive impact on the community we are targeting.

Bill Couzens pointed out that prevention is larger than risk reduction, and that we should refer to the National Cancer Institutes (NCI) website. I did just that and discovered that according to the NCI Cancer Prevention Overview (PDQ and link here) that the NCI too defines prevention as a reduction in the exposure to known risk factors. Environmental, Social, and Infectious.

In reading more about lesscancer.org I began to understand the value in what Bill and his team is trying to achieve. I took the time to listen, to read, and to empathize with his organization. In the end, Stacey, Dr. Varghese, myself, and others are all asking for the same things Bill and lesscancer.org are working towards, however, Bill did not take the time to listen to us and only consider his own words.

As healthcare leaders we need to stop and listen before we speak in order to gain the impact we seek.

2014 Goal Number 3: Do not make assumptions. Unfortunately in the Op Ed piece by Bill Keller, as well as his wife’s article that has now since been retracted by the Guardian, it is my estimation that they both made a lot of assumptions.  They took a few of the words of 140 characters, a few words from a blog, and a few of their own words to make assumptions about another persons story that just happen to not be true.

We all have a story. Each of us lives a story that is specific to our own perceptions and prejudices. I do not have the right to make a judgment on another being because their story is not my own. I can do my best to listen, to empathize, and if placed in a position to be asked how I would proceed under a particular set of circumstances I can do my best to predict how I may or may not act.

I do not know Bill, I do not know his wife, and I do not know Lisa Adams. I do know that according to my own goals for 2014 that trying to make an assumption about any of them is a misstep. All I can hope for is that Bill and his wife may take the time to consider that they took a drastic misstep, projected their own experiences and prejudices onto a woman that did not ask for it, and has only wanted to tell her story, and to hopefully positively impact the lives of others.

2014 Goal Number 4: Always do you best. I do believe that Dr. Cary Presant was trying to do his best in his article. It is my opinion that in reading and re-reading his article that his intention was to inform people on the positive movement that has occurred in cancer. At the same time I believe Dr. Presant was hoping to help inform people on the importance of being an active participant in their care, to ensure that they communicated their stories to their physicians, and that each of us knows that we have a role to play in making sure we seek out risk reduction techniques, screening programs, and trying to change our daily habits. Unfortunately, Dr. Presant chose a few wrong words, but was more than willing to have a dialogue, convey his message, and own the misstep. True leadership.

A 2014 stretch goal was to disseminate my ability to have a meaningful dialogue with all of the stakeholders during the same conversation.

Each of the articles did one thing opposite of what I try to do on a daily basis, collaboration. In my opinion I saw the three articles cause a slight divide in the cancer community. I live in a world in which I drive home the importance of end users wants, needs, and expectations to people in crystal palaces. I spent several years working collaboratively with healthcare organizations and government agencies all over the United States to drive home the importance of collaboration, patient inclusion, dialogue, and listening.

In a time in which we see healthcare focusing on creating and leveraging multidisciplinary teams to care for cancer patients, the three articles do just the opposite. The authors forget that the reason why Huffington Post, New York Times, and Guardian have them as authors is because there is a set of end users that place a value on their words.

Alone we have no value. We have little impact. We take small steps and make miniscule progress.

I have confidence that in the next set of articles the 3 authors write that they will consider the end users. I hope they will think of the entire set of stakeholders such as customers, consumers, patients, and healthcare professionals and will use the tools and platforms as a way to offer collaboration, teamwork, and a common voice.

When we realize that together we are stronger, we begin to march to in unison, towards the same goal, it is something that impacts all of us. Lung cancer learns from breast cancer. Prostate cancer learns from cervical cancer. Brain cancer learns from liver. Physicians learn from patients. Patients learn from other patients. Authors learn from readers. Investment bankers learn from operational managers. Academic medical centers learn from community hospitals.

We need to ensure that we speak impeccably and do our best each day. I know I may falter at times, but I have other healthcare leaders to help me when I do. To keep me pointed in the right direction.

We live in a connection economy. The world is about connecting, listening, and having a dialogue. The 2D world is an extension of real life.

This is the power of being human. This is the power of being social. This is the leverage that we as leaders in the healthcare space need to provide consistently on a daily basis.

Collaborate. Listen. Communicate. Together our stories will always be stronger.

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek


#PtExp #PX #cancer #hcldr #hccosts #hcsm #stories #storytelling #lcsm #bcsm #hcmktg #mktg #storyteller #hcpt #consumerism #hcbiz #CX #UX

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