I think we'll be seeing some exciting stuff, and I'll be covering it for THCB (look for live, thoughtful, in-depth coverage later) and livetweeting (if we can get consistent WiFi in the basement where sessions are held).
When I first used Twitter last April to liveblog from the World Healthcare Congress in DC, I did it to keep the Nexthealth crew back home in Holland up to date.
I was missing my network of mindstorm pals, and thought Tweeting would be an ideal way to keep in touch.
It would be quick, I thought - a few updates here and there, some jokes, some quotes, snarky comments, and tossing out links to newly discovered companies with the potential to carve out a niche and scratch the hell out of it.
It would be easy, I thought - 140 characters? I can spit that out in my sleep.
More about the challenges of livetweeting here.
Since April, along with many friends and colleagues, I've livetweeted from healthcare and tech events in Canada, the US, and NL.
Some people hate it (believe it or not I do have friends on Twitter who are not health-o-philes); for these I give advanced warnings that I'll be livetweeting, and recommend they 'unfollow' me for the duration.
But a larger subset of Twitter friends and colleagues who can't attend all the conferences I'm privileged to see live follow the tweets as a substitute for being there.
It's for all of you that I take the time, energy, and parse out some of my limited computational brain power to tweet. Why?
Let me make this clear - I don't get paid to livetweet. The vast majority of conferences I attend I pay for myself, or get a reduced/free media/journalist pass (or the event itself is free, in the case of the RWJF event today).
It would be a dream though to find a company or foundation to sponsor a team of livetweeters who would travel around to healthcare events the world over and freely disseminate knowledge with the online health community.
Wait, do I smell another Nexthealth Knight News Challenge entry?!
So if I don't get paid, why do it? When in doubt, go back to the heart of the matter.
When I find myself asking "why do it," I go back and measure everything I do professionally against the Nexthealth mission: connecting people, online and offline, interested in improving healthcare.
Sparking healthcare innovation via livetweeting from conferences? Sharing thought-provoking quotes, links, and comments? Learning more myself in the process? Check. Ok. It's a worthwhile use of time and energy.
Furthermore, this open-source sharing of health event info via livestreaming lives up to the Nexthealth vision of consumer-centric, patient-directed, hotealthcare - people will be able to access healthcare goods and services, online and offline, at will.
This goal includes healthcare bloggers, providers, educators, students, executives, patients, critics, and 'enthusiasts,' who should be able to access 'open source learning' quickly and easily online, at will.
So the pitch: I view livetweeting as a platform for collaborative continuing education in healthcare.
The great news is, many of us are doing it. The even better news is, this is a completely new field. We're looking for ways to radically increase the value of backchannel content.
Now when I'm going to attend an event, I'll post it first to my Google Calendar. Next, I tweet it, usually with a link, in case any of my network is interested.
Sometimes people will ask me to help them find more information, which I usually do.
Other times, people respond that they can't attend but will look forward to the livetweeting.
I'm increasingly choosing livetweeting over live/microblogging for a couple of reasons:
1. It's real time, like watching stockbrokers on the floor, energy and urgency - or boredom at the lack of action - conveys itself via the characters I choose.
2. It's impossible to capture the look, feel, and substance of an event live, while it's engulfing your senses. Some of the best journalists I know have difficulty with this, and I'm nowhere near that level. So while I do liveblog at times, usually I go right back to my tweetstream after an event and 'start' there - composing a more elaborate narrative from the bursts of opinion and thought generated throughout.
3. Blogging is static, passive, and top-down. I generate content, if you like it, you read it. Livetweeting is active, reactionary, involving, and two-way. Often questions from fellow Tweets inform what I ask presenters, and their opinions modify, in REAL time, how I begin to filter the event.
4. Twitter is fluid. It's Health 2.0. It makes blogging look like the AMA - clunky, slower, and behind the times. Followers can search via keywords (like Health 2.0, Nexthealth), friends can search for my name, people looking for something to do near them can search via location, etc. Followers drop on and off based on the utility of the conversation you provide, not just the static coverage you can generate as a blogger.
But again, I'm biased - obviously I find livetweeting a valuable way to enrich the healthcare innovation conversation online and offline.
So here's a quick review from around the blogosphere of who finds livetweeting and Health 2.0-style coverage valuable...it's for all of us that I hope more healthcare bloggers will livetweet:
- The Health Care Blog (picked up from e-patients entry by Susannah Fox)
- John Sharp at eHealth
- Bob Coffield at The Health Care Law Blog
You don't even know who you're touching when livetweeting for health, but keep reaching out. Thanks Kirsten.
Lesson of the week: Shouldn't you consider livetweeting? Or at the very least, 'lurking' on Twitter and following those of us who do?
Even if all you do is field questions for us to ask in person, you're contributing to the conversation. N0w - Let's tweet!