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Health & Wellness
Boston Blogger Dinner

My colleague Jeff Leebaw and I hosted a dinner for health care bloggers in the Boston area, on Wednesday night.

As always, these casual meetings are enlightening for all the participants, many of whom have virtually communicated, but never met. A lot of interesting discussions came up, and lots of open-ended opinions. Jeff, VP of Corporate Communications at Johnson & Johnson was interested in how a company like ours, with experience and expertise in so many areas of health, could bring value to patients through social media.

Charlie Baker, CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and author of the blog Let's Talk Health Care , posed another interesting question: "How is social media going to affect my business model in the future?" There was no easy answer to that, other than acknowledging that the trend towards communicating with current and potential health care consumers is growing rapidly. It seems that a social media strategy certainly needs to be part of any business plan going forward, for all health care providers of goods and services. Other participants in the dinner included Dr. Gwenn, a pediatrician whose blog, Dr. Gwenn Is In deals with such topics as child health, parenting and pop culture. She participates in many social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Why is Twitter so popular and widely-adopted? No one knows for sure, but it sure is, and the major problem seems to be not letting it totally distract you from the rest of your work during the day!

Laurie Edwards, author of the book, Life Disrupted: Getting Real About Chronic Illness in Your Twenties and Thirties, was another guest. Both her book and blog, A Chronic Dose give a very interesting patient perspective on being young and living with chronic illnesses. Rounding out the table were Shwen Gwee from Vertex Pharmaceuticals who authors the blog, Med 2.0; Jack Barette of Wego Health (picture follows)

....and Danielle Mancano of SHIFT Communications, which performs paid consulting work for Johnson & Johnson. Jack had, what I thought, was a profound opinion about social media, and to some extent, an answer to Jeff's question. He feels that the social media space offers the last best chance for health care companies to meaningfully re-engage with consumers and to "take back" their reputation as a constructive partner. All in all, a great meeting, and a terrific dinner too, at Abe & Louie's on Boylston St.

Disclosure: Johnson & Johnson paid for the dinner, but for no other expenses or compensation.