Last week, I was in Las Vegas to attend BlogWorld where Johnson & Johnson was one of two corporate sponsors of the event's first-ever track on MedBlogging. Kim McAllister, one of the organizers of the Medblogging track, has a great synopsis over at Emergiblog, and together with Dr. Val Jones , pulled together a thoughtful series of panels throughout the day that drew some of the high rollers in medical and healthcare blogging from throughout North America -- and even one, Bongi, who came all the way from South Africa!
As is often the case with these kinds of gatherings, it was great to finally put faces to names - and to see that the online personalities that they project through their blogs was a pretty dang close match to who they are in real life.
I had a chance to say a few things as part of a panel, alongside Paul Levy of Running a Hospital fame, who joined us virtually and Bob Stern from our co-sponsor, the medical news site MedPage Today, during our panel on "The Value of Blogs To Hospitals, Industry, and News Organizations." Thanks to masterful moderating by Professor Gary Schwitzer whose Health News Review does its best to encourage responsible healthcare reporting, we covered a fair amount of ground -- moving from how we each got involved, to covering some of the complexities associated with rolling the dice to make our blogs and sites a reality.
[caption id="attachment_1088" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Virtual Paul Levy"][/caption]Though much was discussed throughout the day, one theme just kept coming up again and again -- and that was what could all of us do to help ensure the accuracy of healthcare information that is available online. According to a recent report by Pew Internet & American Life, 61% of Americans go online for health information and of those, a majority access user-generated-health information when making decisions about their healthcare needs. But, unfortunately, much of what is spread online is misleading or in some cases completely unsupported by scientific or medical knowledge, a fact that Dr. Val Jones made clear during the panel she hosted.
As I sped back East after the conference, a couple of thoughts kept rattling around in my brain concerning what we all can do to try to encourage the spread of useful, scientific information:
1) While the online world is often a great source for medical information, there is a lot of misleading information out there.
2) There is more that medical professionals and others who have some scientific knowledge and information can do to provide clarity around confusing and often conflicting information about different medical conditions.
3) Companies that likewise have data and information should also be part of these discussions in some way.
Now, given it was just a one-day meeting, no real solutions were agreed upon. But based on the conversations that I had with some of the folks there, there seemed to be a consensus that we should all meet again, perhaps at a similar event, to discuss more that we can all do together. Suggestions for locations and approaches are welcome!
I'm sure there are other accounts of the MedBlogger track that I've failed to include, but below are a few that provide a nice synopsis:
Oh and special thanks for making this event great also goes to Dr. Ramona Bates who create a quilt that everyone in attendance signed!
[caption id="attachment_1090" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="The fabled Medblogger Quilt"][/caption]
Here's another post on the MedBlogging track -- this time from Dr. V -- Medical Blogosphere Rising.