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All Things #hcsm

Each Sunday at 9 p.m. EST medical social media Tweeps barrage the Twitter stream with tweets carrying the #hcsm tag. The tag stands for healthcare communications and social media, and those who follow it are involved discussions covering a wide range of topics (T1, T2, etc) from the role of technology in the exam room to patient support groups. The chat, created by Dana Lewis, moves at lightning speed because so many Tweeps are in on it and there's so much to be said in the hour's time. Even if one only "lurks" (reading without tweeting), the chat is educational, inspiring, thought provoking, and a great way to "meet" new people to follow. Throughout the rest of the week, the #hcsm tag pops up from time to time on individual tweets that are related to the overall topic of healthcare and social media, so at any time a search for the tag is sure to turn up something worth reading. In the spirit of the #hcsm chat, today's blog post covers a range of topics that, at least for me, are just as exciting. 

TI - Stanford & Medicine X
It is my great honor to have been selected to serve on Stanford University's Medicine X ePatient Advisory Panel. This panel will be responsible for helping ensure that the patient voice is part of the Medicine X conference that overall will address emerging technologies in healthcare. My fellow panelists are Sean Ahrens, Hugo Campos, Steve Wilkins, and Nick Dawson—each of whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Stanford for the Medicine 2.0 conference in September. To keep up with plans for the conference, a project of Stanford's own Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab and directed by Dr. Larry Chu, visit or follow @StanfordMedX and #medX on Twitter.

T2 - Doctors 2.0 & Paris
Continuing the healthcare and social media conference trend is the upcoming Doctors 2.0 & You conference to be held in Paris in May. The conference is a true international affair and an incredible opportunity to look beyond the American healthcare system for ideas. Previous speakers whose names ring (or should ring) a bell with those on this side of the sea include Brian Vartabedian of Texas Children's Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine and author of 33charts.comVictor Montori, who has worked with the Mayo Clinic's Social Media Center, and Gilles Frydman, co-founder of the Society for Participatory Medicine. Denise Silber, conference organizer and president of Basil Strategies, has said that she'd love to have me there. Registration fees may be waived for international patients; however, travel to Paris is not covered. Like most patients, I am unable to afford a trip to Paris, regardless of purpose, and so am putting out the call for sponsorship—for myself and for fellow patients who hope to attend the conference. For now, Silber is the contact for patient travel sponsorship. Thanks to the suggestion of the ever creative ePatientDave, I am hoping to set up a page to help bring in donations, and if it is approved and goes live, I will be sure to let you know. My estimate is that the trip will cost approximately $2,500 for airfare and hotel. As an alternative, I also have set up a PayPal donations account. My involvement in healthcare, social media, disease awareness, and patient advocacy is all building up to a book, which I will begin writing in 2012. Should I exceed my sponsorship goal (a girl can dream!), then funds will be used for a planned writer's residency at Wellspring House and actually bringing the book from concept to fruition.

T3 - FMD Chat
Shortly after my diagnosis with intimal fibromuscular dysplasia, Kari and I stumbled across one another on a Mayo Clinic discussion board when we both responded to another patient's posting about having high blood pressure and gastrointestinal issues but having passed all GI screenings with flying colors. Kari had responded that the young female patient should consider having a vascular work up. I agreed with Kari 100 percent—the patient's symptoms and history so closely mirrored my own—and responded to the patient saying as much. Kari and I alerted on one another like two hound dogs on the trail of the hunt, which is to say we recognized ourselves in one another. Sure enough, we shared the FMD diagnosis. I can not impress what a life-altering moment it was to have not only unexpectedly stumbled across another FMD patient but my first fellow FMD patient. Kari and I instantly clicked and became fast friends. Every time I hear her Minnesota accent, I think of Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi. She's a firecracker who, after already having a successful career as an RN, has made it her life's work to be a patient advocate for those with FMD,  is the vice-president of the Joe Neikro Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness of and researching aneurysms, and founded the Midwest Women's Vascular Advocates group. One night Kari and I had a conversation about how, as a patient, I had never had the experience of any kind of support group—for my bypass, for my stroke, for my aneurysms, for FMD. The next morning FMD Chat was born. The group's goal is to offer non-medical, peer-to-peer support to FMD patients around the world, and it is based on Facebook specifically so that it is open, accessible, and free. Since it's creation, FMD Chat has blown me away. There have been other online groups, but the pervasiveness of Facebook has allowed for more connection between patients than I had previously thought possible. There are so many patients who are frustrated and scared and who simply want to talk to another patient with their same disease so that they don't feel like such a freak. My fellow FMD patients move me with their stories and their compassion. I am so glad to be a co-founder with Kari because I know she is someone whose heart is in the right place and will always put patients first. 

T4 - Upcoming Gigs
I will be writing a guest blog post addressing talking about dying and advance directives for the Death with Dignity National Center this month. Learn more about end-of-life issues by participating in the weekly TweetChat on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST. Follow #EOLChat. On Jan. 11, 2012, I will be moderating the hospice and palliative medicine TweetChat, which is held each Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST. Follow #hpm. The absolutely fabulous Renee Berry and Christian Sinclair organize the chat. 


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