I’d already returned home to Melbourne on Friday morning when Dr Kevin Lee gave his talk on on healthcare social media. I wrote about his planning for the talk here after Kevin engaged OzDOC for some advice on important topics to cover. I’m really sorry I wasn’t there to hear his presentation, although felt there in spirit after I saw this! (Thanks, Ash!)

I reckon that this is the fourth or fifth year the ADS ADEA have spoken about social media and how healthcare professionals can use it safely. I remember seeing diabetes educator Natalie Wischer give a great talk back in 2012 highlighting the different social media platforms available and how they are being used in diabetes. This was just after we launched the weekly #OzDOC tweetchats and I stood up and gave a plug for our weekly online get-together, urging the HCPs in the room to have a look – to lurk – and see what we were so excited about.

I gave a talk the next year (that’s the photo Dr Kevin Lee used in his talk), encouraging HCPs to engage with the online community. And last year at the Roche Educators Day, I ran two practical workshops about how HCPs could use SoMe to connect, enhance and support diabetes care.

It has been on the agenda for a few years, and now it is time to stop talking about it and actually do it.

As mentioned last week, Symplur highlighted just who was talking online at the conference. As usual, the ACBRD team was doing a stellar job live tweeting sessions and promoting their excellent work. And, of course, advocates on the ground were doing their (our?) best to share and engage. There were over 2.7 million impressions on Twitter for the duration of the conference, which is certainly an increase from previous years.

I would really love the ADS and ADEA to be proactive about encouraging social media. I would love for them to look at what happened a couple of weeks ago at the American Association of Diabetes Educators conference and see how meaningful social media interaction between people with diabetes and healthcare professionals can and does happen. Safely. The real engagement and collaboration between the organising professional body and advocates saw impressions on Twitter of over 17.5 million, and over 860 people engaging online.

So, how do we go here in Australia about increasing online presence and discussion? In the room for Dr Kevin Lee’s talk were two of Australia’s most prolific and well-known patient advocates – both high-level users of HCSM. I’m referring to Kim Henshaw and Ashley Ng. I wasn’t in the room, yet was actively participating, re-tweeting and engaging – as were many others during sessions that I was sitting in earlier in the week. Having more consumers in sessions provides that connection with PWD not at the conference to hear and see what is going on.

I also think there was, perhaps, a missed opportunity at the session speaking about social media use. Having an advocate on the panel or chairing the session (and remember: Kim and Ashley were in the room!) would have added significant value to the discussion. Dr Kevin Lee went straight to the source when he was putting together his talk. Think about how great it could have been had one or two of those who helped him pull together his information were on the stage elaborating on their comments. Perhaps next year.