As the exclusive Australian partner to GLOBALHealthPR, Team VIVA! joined our counterparts across Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Europe, for the first annual International Healthcare Social Media Summit (IHSMS), held at Spectrum Science headquarters in Washington DC.

Drawing on real-life scenarios in health and science communications, key speakers at the IHSMS streamed live at 11pm AEST on Thursday, May 18, to reveal insights into social media strategy with a health communications context.

Read the full GLOBALHealthPR IHSMS Report (PDF): Can smart listening enable behavioural change? Malaria within a social framework

Digital Strategy Director at Spectrum Science , Anthony Lafauce, kicked off the event with an overview of best practices for online health communicators. According to Anthony, transparency is key to digital health communications, and in this online space, we should be ensuring clarity between health information and health promotion.

As more people turn to online media for disease advice and treatment information, we also focus our attention on ‘smart listening’. Health organisations will greatly benefit from online interactions with their target audiences by firstly observing and then joining online discussions on a particular health topic, before launching any new health programs.

According to General Manager at VIVA! Communications, Paul Jans, the way forward for healthcare organisations is to fully utilise the concept of strategic social media listening:

“For every emerging health issue or program in Australia and overseas, there are literally thousands of people sharing their ideas in the online space; and as health communicators, it is our responsibility, in the first instance, to listen,” says Paul, who is representing Team VIVA! at the IHSMS in Washington DC.

Leading health experts, at the forefront of scientific and medical advances, are in a unique position to provide online audiences with real-time, qualitative health information. Unfortunately, healthcare professionals who are not yet sharing their ideas online, often miss out on trending conversations in the health and wellness arena.

VIVA! GM Paul Jans sight-seeing during his trip to Washington DC for the International Healthcare Social Media Summit (IHSMS)

By drawing on a global health listening program for malaria, GLOBALHealthPR partners found that online conversations around malaria and the recent World Malaria Day were not led by healthcare professionals, but rather, generated by the family and friends of people affected by the disease.

The listening program for malaria spanning 15 countries, also revealed that online conversations around malaria were not necessarily led by people within close proximity of typically malaria-prone regions, such as the tropical areas of the Americas, Asia, and Sub Saharan Africa. Our partners found that, on World Malaria Day there was limited information available on social media forums and little online insight into the disease by health organisations.

GLOBALHealthPR partners are urging healthcare professionals and leading health experts to join the millions of social media users who are already sharing their health concerns, concepts and ideas in the online space.

During a break at the International Healthcare Social Media Summit (IHSMS), VIVA!’s Paul Jans checks in with “President Obama and the First Lady”

While not necessarily stopping a pandemic online, healthcare communicators and health professionals may leverage social media tools and platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogging sites, to influence opinions and behaviours on a health issue, and leverage action for better health outcomes.

1 Comment

  1. Neil Crump on May 24, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Hey Paul – it was a pleasure to meet you at the Summit in Washington DC. Looking forward to working with you and the rest of the ace VIVA team.

    Take care, Neil (GLOBALHealthPR UK)

    Great that you got to meet with the Obamas:+))