Skip to main content

Customer Experience and Design

Social Digestion: Social Media and the Thinking Organization

Sometimes social media is too popular for its own good. The fun and frivolity of finding Mini Oreo Peppermint Cheesecakes on Pinterest (that exists) or figuring out what the Official Grumpy Cat is up to on Facebook (he exists too) often get in the way of conversations regarding the real collaboration problems faced by the healthcare enterprise. Whenever social media enters the conversation as a potential solution to the healthcare collaboration problem, it is often brushed off as that “cute thing they tweet about.”


But, what is social, really? Social is a way for communities of people to digest large volumes of information quickly. We live in an
information rich world, and data overload is this digital world’s greatest side effect. Way back in 2008, a technology research firm called IDC tried to account for all of the 0s and 1s that make up the current store of digital data. They found that in 2007, the world had amassed 161 billion gigabytes of digital data. If each byte of data is one character in a book, then 12 stacks of books could have been piled up from the Earth to the Sun with the digital data collected at that time. But that data growth keeps expanding exponentially. By 2010, those 12 stacks reached from the Sun to Pluto and back to the Sun. From now until 2020, the digital universe will double every two years.

Yes, this information comes in many varieties. Some people (read: me) really want to know what Grumpy Cat is up to. However, we see these masses of big data in the healthcare enterprise daily. Clinicians need to wade through the mountains of medical research that impact care decisions daily. Researchers need to find and figure out the facts and figures that impact public health. Within the organization, employees need to find the information they know exists among the applications, content, and knowledge workers grouped in different, often hidden, locations across the organization.

Many people believe that social media is the instigator of this data overload. I am of the belief that, instead, social media was our collective response to this overload of data. The amount of data available is so vast and so complex that we can only digest it as communities of people interested in similar topics. Instead of being that “cute thing”, social media becomes mission critical to the healthcare organization living in fast moving times. A healthcare enterprise enabled by social would have:

  • Departmental sites that are transformed into dynamic community hubs with quick ways to call, interact, and filter information
  • Care coordination across multiple settings with activity feeds that can track care processes across the care continuum
  • New mediums for knowledge dissemination, which becomes particularly important during a disaster

These are just a few examples, and there are plenty more. What are some of your favorite examples of the healthcare enterprise enabled with social?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Melody Smith Jones

More from this Author

Follow Us