The Real Health Care Revolution: Where Are the Pitch Forks and Torches?
September 21, 2011 – 8:39 am | 11 Comments

 One of the great communications gurus said something to me that I have thought about my six years in and around the online health space:  “It never ceases to surprise me,” he lamented, “common sense just isn’t that common.” The common sense of our worlds seem clear to me.  Everyone is a health seeker; everyone [...]

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#hcsmvac is Building Immunization Awareness with Social Media
August 1, 2011 – 11:38 am | 19 Comments

Poster of a syringe pointed at earth

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, in case you weren’t aware. A couple months ago, my friend, Dr. April Foreman, introduced me to an impromptu group of health advocates who were all interested in the practical application of social media to raise awareness around immunizations. The group has been organized using online tools, and picked a single target city with a historically low vaccination rate in Kansas City, Missouri.

The concept of a small group of people getting together to volunteer their skills for a cause was intriguing to me. Even more intriguing, however, is the idea of a virtual flash mob stemming from the small core group’s efforts. This is most commonly seen in Internet memes, and I thought it would cool to be a part of something like it for health. The group may or may not be successful at creating an immunization meme, but I figured that volunteering would be a great excuse to put some things I’ve learned, and some things I wanted to try, together to contribute.

Social Media Infrastructure

Two big benefits of using online social tools is cost and utility. In this case, the group wanted to have a single place online for all  related activities to filter through. But this space also needed to be able to capture what anybody was doing to be a part of the cause. To facilitate this, the group came up with a unique tag in #hcsmvac. HCSM stands for Health Care Social Media and is an ongoing Sunday night Twitter chat from 9pm -10pm Eastern.

Once the tag existed, the group needed a central platform for all #hcsmvac tagged content to roll through. My old boss, Greg Matthews, was big on this at Humana’s Innovation Center. The central hub can pull in tagged content from multiple social media sources and display them all in one place, allowing everybody to stay up with the group’s most recent news. In this case, the central hub also allows anybody to be recognized for creating tagged content around the cause, as well.

The team chose About.me as the hub platform, because it is free and allows you to pull in multiple feeds into a single online destination. Check it out here: http://about.me/hcsmvac

takeaway A unique tagging convention and central hub is all you need to attempt to start a movement.

My Contributions

google map I am a huge nerd when it comes to Google Maps, among other things. So one thing I knew I could contribute would be a map. Since the group had zeroed in on Kansas City, MO, I thought it would be helpful to locate all of the immunization hotspots in the city. Google Maps allows me to share this publicly once I am finished and the result can be found here: KC Vaccination Map

I got a lot of props from the group for doing this, but I found it to be insanely easy because Google has already done all of the work. All I did was perform Google searches, from within Google Maps, for key words like “immunization” or “vaccine” in Kansas City, MO. When you click on one of the results, on the map, an information box will pop up giving you the option to save the destination to one of your maps. Clicking “Save to Map” will open up a drop down box that allows you to select one of your maps. Clicking “Save” saves it to the map you’ve created and allows you to do it again for the next destination. That’s it. Easy, huh?

Visualization of Google Maps

qr code Now that we had a map of destinations, and an associated link, we needed a way for people to access the map if they weren’t near their computers. The idea of making posters that linked to the vaccination map via QR Code seemed like the way to go… but how is this possible?

screenshot of the goo.gl URL Shortener

It turns out that making your own QR Code is easy, as well, again with Google. The first step is to head over to goo.gl, which is a URL shortener/QR Code Generator. Paste your link into the box and click “Shorten.” Then look down and click on “Details” for the URL you just created. This will lead you to an analytics page that also contains your QR Code. Right click the QR Code to save it to your desktop and now you have a QR Code that you can put on things like…

posters As a kid growing up, I dreaded getting shots. I have my own kids now, and they dread getting shots. Once I turned 21, however, the word shots took on a whole new meaning. When Dr. Foreman was first telling me about #hcsmvac, we both got a laugh out of the negative and positive connotations associated with the word shots, depending on how old you are… I thought it would be funny to make a simple poster about “Doing Shots” that could go up in bars around Kansas City, MO, and created one:

Poster with QR Code

Building on the concept of shots, last week I followed this excellent photoshop tutorial to create the poster at the top of this post, because I thought it would look cool.

Now that you know about #hcsmvac, how can you use social media to contribute and spread the word?

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Mood 24/7 In The News & One Year Celebration
July 25, 2011 – 1:26 pm | 2 Comments
Mood 24/7 In The News & One Year Celebration

This week marks my one year anniversary with Mood 24/7, and today Mood 24/7 was featured  on a Kansas Public Radio piece called: A New Way to Track Mood Changes. Perfect timing. Bryan Thompson, who is the Health Reporter at KPR, interviewed Dr. Adam Kaplin (Mood 24/7′s inventor) Dr. April Foreman (A Mood 24/7 Early [...]

Diabetes survey shows experienced patients taking an active role in health care
June 30, 2011 – 12:19 pm | No Comment
Diabetes survey shows experienced patients taking an active role in health care

People with diabetes on MyDiabetesCentral are experienced treaters who prefer pens and pumps to syringes and rate reading discussion forums and interacting on facebook as their top online activities. We asked about treatment choices, insulin, and online habits in our 2011 diabetes audience survey conducted in May and June. We invited our diabetes newsletter subscribers [...]

Mood 24/7… Now with E-mail reminders
June 29, 2011 – 11:54 am | 3 Comments
Mood 24/7… Now with E-mail reminders

Over the past 10 months, it’s become clear that text messages just don’t work for some people. They either don’t have a text plan, have a plan that makes it hard to receive texts from a shortcode, or don’t live in the U.S. We’ve been listening. I’m happy to announce that Mood 24/7 now allows [...]

5 Things That Caught My Attention at the Health Data Initiative Forum
June 10, 2011 – 9:50 am | 10 Comments
5 Things That Caught My Attention at the Health Data Initiative Forum

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend the 2011 Health Data Initiative Forum at the National Institutes of Health’s Natcher Conference Center. In case you weren’t able to make it, the hashtag was #healthapps, and here are 5 things that caught my attention at this year’s forum: Ozioma – Ozioma is a site, currently finishing [...]

The Verdict Is In: Monday Is Not The Worst Day Of The Week
May 20, 2011 – 10:13 am | 6 Comments
The Verdict Is In: Monday Is Not The Worst Day Of The Week

It’s amazing what a single piece of data, recorded daily, can tell you. This time, we set out to discover the best and worst days of the week by anonymously aggregating at least 50 mood ratings from 500 Mood 24/7 members. The results were different than expected. While 14% of Mood 24/7 members feel that [...]

Honoring Thousands of Points of Light, and the Point of Light Who Made It Possible
March 24, 2011 – 10:45 am | 8 Comments
Honoring Thousands of Points of Light, and the Point of Light Who Made It Possible

It is a once-a-decade kind of gathering – four living ex-Presidents in one room to celebrate one of their own.  Monday night, HealthCentral had an opportunity to help underwrite one of these rare moments, supporting an epic fundraiser and tribute by the Points of Life Institute to President George H.W. Bush.  The event featured Presidents [...]

Five Things at SXSW 11
March 17, 2011 – 4:04 pm | 14 Comments
Five Things at SXSW 11

I want to add my South by Southwest (SXSW) recap to the countless blog posts already out there with five things that captured my imagination at this year’s conference. Needless to say, these are things that I’m already very interested in, so we sort of found each other this year. In no particular order: data [...]

Health Happens Here
March 11, 2011 – 8:00 am | 5 Comments
Health Happens Here

I’m headed to Austin, Texas for South by Southwest today, to listen to people talk about great new ideas on designing the world we want to live in and to overuse the word awesome with old friends, internet friends and new friends too… but this post isn’t about all that. This post is about the [...]

What Can The Travel Industry Teach The Health Industry About Data?
March 8, 2011 – 12:20 pm | 6 Comments
What Can The Travel Industry Teach The Health Industry About Data?

Last week I became curious about how sites like Travelocity and Orbitz get their information. When I think about all of the different flights, times, locations and prices that I can access in real time with a few clicks of a mouse, it makes me wonder why something equivalent doesn’t exist between Doctors and Insurance [...]

Open mHealth
March 1, 2011 – 11:57 am | 26 Comments
Open mHealth

Dr. Deborah Estrin is the Jon Postal Chair in Computer Networks at UCLA, and is leading the Open mHealth Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS) Project. I had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Estrin this morning, and it was great to talk with somebody who is passionate about the “plumbing” that is necessary for [...]

New Features on Mood 24/7
February 23, 2011 – 10:44 am | 2 Comments
New Features on Mood 24/7

Mood 24/7 has over 3,000 registered users and nearly 150 Medical Professionals using it, and I’m pumped that we’re pushing out some new features for our growing community of mood trackers. Here is what we’ve been up to recently: MOBILE charts We’ve updated our charts, so you can now log in and view your personal [...]

How To Get One Million Users
February 15, 2011 – 11:39 am | 20 Comments
How To Get One Million Users

The number one million, doesn’t mean what it used to… but it is still an important number in mobile health technology. Mainly because we haven’t heard it used much, in the context of adoption. The fitness and nutrition category has bested the coveted one million user mark, but I haven’t seen any other category touting [...]

Are We Thinking Too Small?
February 10, 2011 – 8:00 am | No Comment
Are We Thinking Too Small?

If the World Health Organization defined the term “health” as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity back in 1948, then can we really believe that health records only containing information about our physical health will be a panacea for the future of health [...]

Pennsylvanians In A Better Mood AFTER Super Bowl XLV
February 8, 2011 – 1:01 pm | 7 Comments
Pennsylvanians In A Better Mood AFTER Super Bowl XLV

You know that the Super Bowl is a big deal in America when 60,000 plus people vote on whether or not they liked the half time show… So what if you could visualize the relationship between geography, mood and Super Bowl XLV? We got curious about this and averaged the daily mood ratings of anonymous [...]

Digital mHealth Breakdown
February 1, 2011 – 11:50 am | 5 Comments
Digital mHealth Breakdown

The term “mHealth” is pretty broad in nature. There are at least two distinct branches stemming from the core concept of mobile health: connected devices and digital applications. Of these two branches, here is a list of subcategories of digital health applications: Digital mHealth web The original mHealth application is a web site that allows [...]

6 Tips To Turn Support Groups Into Free Focus Groups
January 27, 2011 – 10:38 am | 11 Comments
6 Tips To Turn Support Groups Into Free Focus Groups

I’m leading the development of an SMS and web based mood tracking service called, Mood 24/7. You may be developing a health product of your own, and really need to get into the heads of your target audience. The traditional approach would be to spend tens of thousands of dollars and a couple months to [...]

The mHealth Data Dilemma
January 26, 2011 – 12:30 pm | 2 Comments
The mHealth Data Dilemma

I talk with people a lot about data collection. After all, when you break Mood 24/7 down to its core, you find a data collection service. When pitching the benefits of tracking a single daily health data point, I’ve found the general response to be quite telling of American culture… Nine times out of ten [...]

Take our State of the Union survey with your smart phone
January 25, 2011 – 2:30 pm | 4 Comments
Take our State of the Union survey with your smart phone

Today HealthCentral is participating in a survey to collect feedback on President Obama’s State of the Union address. If you sign up to participate, you’ll be able to share your responses via your smart phone. The survey will be conducted during the address, so you’ll need to be watching to take part. As health care [...]

3 Kinect Hacks to Get You Moving
January 25, 2011 – 9:26 am | 3 Comments
3 Kinect Hacks to Get You Moving

Last November, Microsoft unveiled the Kinect and sold 8 million units worldwide in 60 days. In case you don’t know what the Kinect is, it’s a sophisticated camera that use infrared lights to locate and track 48 points on the human body for up to two people at a time, in conjunction with an Xbox [...]

What does holiday depression look like?
January 20, 2011 – 1:01 am | 11 Comments
What does holiday depression look like?

There is a lot of information out there about Holiday Depression & Loneliness and Holiday Depression & Stress, but the Mood 24/7 team wanted to see what Holiday Depression looked like among our user base. So we calculated the average daily mood from every anonymized Mood 24/7 user’s daily mood rating between Thanksgiving and New [...]

Boomers to Shape mHealth?
January 12, 2011 – 8:00 am | 4 Comments
Boomers to Shape mHealth?

That’s what this MIT report would have you believe, if you believe it. I don’t for two reasons: Boomers are fourth among age groups owning Smartphones and third from last when it comes to texting by age group… at least according to the charts below from 2010. I understand that boomers are the “aging population” [...]

Send in the clowns… I mean mobile health outcomes.
January 11, 2011 – 8:00 am | 9 Comments
Send in the clowns… I mean mobile health outcomes.

America’s hot new question and answer site, Quora, just compelled me to answer a question that I’ve been chewing on for some time now: Which mobile apps really improve health behavior? I love this question because it’s about health outcomes, a hot topic during last November’s mHealth Summit… but one that you’d be hard pressed [...]

The Rise of the Open API
January 4, 2011 – 12:22 pm | 5 Comments
The Rise of the Open API

I’ve been “into” the concept of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for a few years now, because I think that in general they have pretty big implications in health. If research is based on data, then what better data sets exist than the ones we voluntarily fill out about ourselves on the regular? Programmable Web is [...]

Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes
December 9, 2010 – 11:42 pm | 6 Comments

Data sets are much more interesting when compared to other data sets. But they’re even more interesting than that, when they’re animated, eh? If you’ve always been curious of how wealth determines health, but didn’t know where to look, then I recommend taking the next four minutes of your life to let Hans Rosling, Director [...]

SoHealth Spotlight: Wireless Health Strategies
December 7, 2010 – 6:00 am | 2 Comments
SoHealth Spotlight: Wireless Health Strategies

One of the best parts about my job is using social media to meet interesting people at the intersection of health, technology and the Internet. I’ve decided that I would like to share some of these experiences here on the SoHealth blog, as a collection of the people I think are pushing things in those [...]

mHealth Summit 2010
November 12, 2010 – 6:00 am | 6 Comments
mHealth Summit 2010

The 2010 mHealth Summit hit Washington DC this week, and if you missed it then you missed out. There was definitely more of a buttoned up feel to this particular conference… with lots of suits being worn and a regulatory vibe buzzing through the massive Walter E. Washington Convention Center. But in the end I [...]

Seven Tablets Set to Disrupt Healthcare in America
November 5, 2010 – 1:30 am | 2 Comments

I’m a tech/gadget nerd, I work for a health media company, and I’m pumped. Why? Because it’s 4Q 2010 and tablet manufacturers from around the world are finally set to flood the market with their creations. Juxtapose that with the recent CompTia survey showing that 1 in 4 Physicians and Dentists plan to purchase a [...]

Three Healthy Visualizations From One Number
October 8, 2010 – 6:00 am | 4 Comments
Three Healthy Visualizations From One Number

We entered Mood 24/7 into the Practice Fusion Patient Driven Data Challenge, because data portability is where health is headed. Especially as bio-sensors become more a part of our daily lives. It just makes sense for people who have decided to engage in their health by recording activity data to be able to have all [...]

Google Instant’s Affect on the Longtail: A Case Study Using Actual Numbers
September 30, 2010 – 11:28 am | 4 Comments
Google Instant’s Affect on the Longtail: A Case Study Using Actual Numbers

Last time around, we speculated on what Google Instant might mean for searcher behavior.  While some e-pundits vowed that the longtail would die, and others said that the longtail would get a boost, my intuition was that it would be a little of both.  That is, short-tail searchers might add some more depth to their [...]

6 Infographics Every mHealth Fan Should See
September 30, 2010 – 6:00 am | 2 Comments
6 Infographics Every mHealth Fan Should See

Are you excited about mHealth, but don’t really have concrete facts to back up your enthusiasm? I was in your shoes once, but don’t fret… There has been a ton of research conducted on the mobile industry and mobile users in particular, and the best part is that the high points all seem to have [...]

5 Personal Health Records with Open APIs
September 24, 2010 – 8:00 am | 3 Comments
5 Personal Health Records with Open APIs

An April 2010 study conducted by the California Healthcare Foundation, surveying 1,848 Americans over the age of 18, found that only 7% of Americans have used PHRs. What’s interesting is that out of all of the PHRs on the market today,  it was difficult to find five of them with either an existing open API [...]

mHealth is Data Collection
September 23, 2010 – 10:47 am | 8 Comments
mHealth is Data Collection

After reading and reading, it seems that the mHealth phenomenon can really be broken down into two parts: data collection and data distribution. Put plainly, any value derived from mHealth lies in the data being collected from patients and distributed throughout the health care system. You may not believe me, but let’s suppose that we [...]

9 iPhone Apps for ADHD
September 17, 2010 – 6:00 am | 2 Comments
9 iPhone Apps for ADHD

It’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD Awareness Week, which makes it a great time to put a list of iPhone apps together that have been built to test for ADHD and provide ADHD support for both people living with, and those that are caring for people with ADHD. After you’ve looked through these ADHD [...]

Is iPhone’s iOS 4.0 Killing Your Workout?
September 16, 2010 – 11:37 am | 7 Comments
Is iPhone’s iOS 4.0 Killing Your Workout?

Is your iPhone acting different when connected to accessories since upgrading to iOS 4.0? Like many others, my iPhone 3g has become very slow since upgrading the operating system to 4.0. In all honesty, I really didn’t want to upgrade because I had read all the rumblings around the Internet about it. I was forced [...]

Technology and Data and Health, Oh My!
August 30, 2010 – 2:36 pm | 5 Comments

Allow myself to introduce… myself. My name is Chris Hall and I am leading the development of Mood 24/7, as well as staying up on mHealth in general. And it’s an exciting time to be involved in the sexy side of health, if you ask me. The short version of my story is that I [...]

Show me the stimulus money: Mother’s milk and fresh veg
June 9, 2010 – 2:10 pm | 3 Comments
Show me the stimulus money: Mother’s milk and fresh veg

For all the talk of “shovel ready,” it’s still not easy to identify public works that got money from the stimulus bill. I have seen a few signs labeling road construction work as “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” projects, but that’s about it. However, on a local radio show this week, I heard about specific [...]

TechCrunch Disrupt: Top Picks for Startups
June 9, 2010 – 12:53 pm | 6 Comments
TechCrunch Disrupt: Top Picks for Startups

Close to 2,000 startup founders, investors and assorted tech junkies converged on New York last week for TechCrunch Disrupt, a one-of-a-kind conference to discuss where the internet is headed and who gets to lead us there.  The three-day event was held in the abandoned back offices of Merril Lynch. It was a fitting symbol of [...]

Hey Google, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
May 18, 2010 – 11:55 am | 4 Comments
Hey Google, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

My weekly tutoring has turned into a fascinating sociology lesson. In the past few weeks, I’ve learned my blackberry is “ancient” (true), that most teachers communicate with students and parents via email and post assignments online (not surprising), and that Justin Bieber is the cutest guy of all time (weird). Last night, one of my [...]

A New Milestone for HHS Open Government
May 3, 2010 – 10:43 am | 3 Comments
A New Milestone for HHS Open Government

A few weeks ago I was invited to volunteer join an independent review effort of federal agency open government plans that were delivered by key federal agencies on April 9, 2010. The independent reviewers were organized by a non-profit transparency organization call Open the Government. Since I work routinely with health information and have gotten [...]

A night with White House Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator Sam Kass
April 27, 2010 – 10:35 am | 6 Comments
A night with White House Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator Sam Kass

Our 4th annual DTC thought-leader dinner featured Sam Kass, White House Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator for Michelle Obama, who spoke to our group about the administration’s plans for improving the nation’s nutrition. Photos of Sam speaking, dinner at Farmers and Fishers Restaurant, and our guests are below.

Survey: During lifetime, average person sees nearly 20 doctors
April 27, 2010 – 10:00 am | 7 Comments
Survey: During lifetime, average person sees nearly 20 doctors

In a study commissioned by Practice Fusion (an electronic health care record (EHR) company), custom research firm GfK Roper found that patients see 18.7 different doctors on average throughout their lives. While the number isn’t that shocking (count back through specialists, second opinions, moving to a new part of the country, etc.) it does underscore [...]

BET’s Proposal: Make the Internet More Accessible
April 22, 2010 – 12:20 pm | 5 Comments
BET’s Proposal: Make the Internet More Accessible

Had a really interesting meeting yesterday with BET, where we heard more about their new proposal to close the digital divide and expand African American broadband access, usage and literacy. The proposal is currently in the hands of the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration, and BET is hoping for a grant so they [...]

Scary Graphic of the Day: Obesity in the US
April 20, 2010 – 9:19 am | 9 Comments
Scary Graphic of the Day: Obesity in the US

From “Too fat to fight,” a report released today by Mission: Readiness, a group led by retired military leaders and advocating “smart investments in the upcoming generation of American children.”  Mission:Readiness is holding a press conference this afternoon to discuss that “75% of young Americans are ineligible to serve their country because they have either [...]

Surprise! More people tracking good habits
April 15, 2010 – 3:48 pm | 7 Comments
Surprise! More people tracking good habits

We’re learning new stuff everyday since we launched HabitWatch, the iPhone app that prompts people to track their habits.  Since a week or so ago, we’ve been watching the numbers of downloads (pretty normal & climbing steadily) and number of habits entered (both good and bad). BUT – the thing that surprised us most was [...]

Health insurance reform law, rumors and you
April 1, 2010 – 5:06 pm | 4 Comments
Health insurance reform law, rumors and you

Wondering if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will change your tax bill or how you get your health insurance? Check out the Washington Post’s calculator to find out. If you’re willing to share 4 bits of data – anonymously, of course – this tool will tell you what to expect. Want to know [...]

Google’s Shifting Search Page: How Your Clicks Can Change the Results You See
March 25, 2010 – 1:02 pm | 3 Comments
Google’s Shifting Search Page: How Your Clicks Can Change the Results You See

For a number of years, SEO folks have fruitlessly wondered if or how Google has used searcher behavior to improve the results it serves up.  Will they push a site down if searchers ignore that link on the results page?  Or bump it up if searchers click through and spend a lot of time on [...]

Is the Health Web Space Really THAT Different?
March 23, 2010 – 10:03 am | One Comment
Is the Health Web Space Really THAT Different?

The balance between privacy and innovation online is a recurring theme for a health-centered product development team, but is it really THAT different? The foundation of our group is based on the guiding principle that we’re meeting user needs through useful, usable and desirable products.  We know that online health searches are growing across demographics [...]

Has the Trend toward the Long Tail of Search Ended?
February 22, 2010 – 9:57 pm | 4 Comments
Has the Trend toward the Long Tail of Search Ended?

Investigating the Short Tail Summer of ‘09 For the last 3-4 years, no single topic has dominated conversation about how searchers access health information like the rise of the Long Tail.  The phalanx of geeks who find search query length fascinating have documented how searchers have transitioned from treating the search box like a directory [...]

Health Care, Anyone?
February 22, 2010 – 9:43 pm | 3 Comments
Health Care, Anyone?

President Obama and Congress are going once more into the breach on health care reform.  Whatever one’s political views about the issue, the notion of “health care” writ large puts policymakers at odds with the way Americans think and learn about their own health issues.  Policymakers talk about “health care” as though it is a [...]

iPad’s Real Category Killer
February 22, 2010 – 9:34 pm | No Comment
iPad’s Real Category Killer

A lot has been written about whether Bezos’ Kindle will be slayed by Jobs’ iPad, with reviewers dissecting everything from the latter’s screen resolution to lack of camera. Less has been written on the impact that Apple’s new toy will have on struggling print publishers, with articles like this one “Can Apple’s Tablet Save Newspaper [...]