Notes & Links: August 29, 2013

Curated Social Media Resources About Disability
Webicina has curated an excellent collection of disability focused blogs, podcasts, slideshows, mobil application and community sites. Another fine resource from this site. Spead the word.

The Most Effective Obamacare Delay is Defunding
Chris Jacobs writing in The Health Care Blog reiterates the current scream from the right; defund Obamacare. He makes the argument that real conservatives don’t want to shut down government to destroy Obamacare. It reads like this:

We should not buy into the false assumption that efforts to defund Obamacare equate to a shutdown of the federal government. Heritage and others have pushed for Congress to fully fund regular government operations and separate Obamacare from annual appropriations. But conservatives of either party in Congress have no leverage on any of these critical issues unless the President believes that he will have to assume the responsibility of a government shutdown.

It is an interesting argument but more to my posting this are the comments. Comments alone are worth the price of reading this standard conservative blah blah about making sure only the few have healthcare. The comments are rich with pro and con and a smattering of wing-nuts.

EveryMove Launches the EveryMove 100 Health Insurance Index
Russell Benaroya writing on The Health Care Blog introduces a newly minted list of health insurance companies focused on engaging consumers to help them take control of their health as a partner. The index evaluates the following categories:

Social media presence and interactions (breadth and depth of engagement)
Mobile investments (mobile web and app ecosystem)
Website statistics (popularity ranking, refreshed content)
Customer support access (availability/ease of access)
Current consumer satisfaction (what are current members saying)

Beyond the fact this is a great index and it helps consumers find new measures to use when selecting health insurance Benaroya speaks to the strategic need of insurers to engage patients better through new media, mobile, and just plain customer service. The index can be found here.

Using Twitter to Examine Smoking Behavior and Perceptions of Emerging Tobacco Products
Myslin, Zhu, et. al. publishing in JMIR offer what is the future of using Twitter to perform effective and highly relevant “infoveillance”. We all know what Twitter is and how it works. Many of us know that Twitter is being used by the CDC regarding influenza informedness as a health status surveillance methodology. We also know Twitter has uncovered poor public informedness and misuse of antibiotic. But this for this study Twitter is used to:

  • perform content analysis of tobacco-related tweets
  • improve signal to noise ration in Twitter by automatically filtering out irrelevant content 
  • demonstrate the utility of Twitter in addressing new public health challenges re: tobacco 


The authors with their very complete and carefully designed study have been able to identify opportunities for tobacco education.

The next most common genre, marketing, is followed relatively distantly by information and news, and most tweets in these categories are not posted by recognized health or news organizations. In sum, reliable information is far less accessible on Twitter than are opinions, marketing posts, and information from unverified sources, indicating potential for greater public education in tobacco prevention policies.

Think about the above and how Twitter is void of EBM references to tobacco use and it’s outcome. 

In this regard, Twitter surveillance may reveal insights not available through surveys, where participants do not spontaneously relate experiences to an audience of friends and followers and are instead more likely to express more carefully crafted opinions. Indeed, surveys may thus underestimate the prevalence of positive sentiment toward tobacco.

And Twitter allows us see deep inside the person, their motivations, reactions, and driving forces. Very important if we are to engage people in their healthcare beyond tobacco. Let’s say we do this same analysis on hypertension and behavior. 

The authors are quick to identify the fact they only used 1% of Twitter feed and their annotated dataset was small as was their number of smoking keywords. But all in all this is a fantastic look at the potential of Twitter to uncover and point out direction for education and engagement. 

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