HealthCentral Hearts say, “Thanks for your help!”
My dad smoked for most of his adult life, quitting only when his first grandson was born. When I was pregnant, I urged him to quit so that he would be around to see his namesake grow up.
Apparently that was strong enough motivation to get him to quit. He had tried several times previously but had always gone back to the habit.
That was almost seven years ago. I recently found out that he has been diagnosed with emphysema and has a nodule in one lung. It sounds like it is benign (small, smooth and with rounded edges) but he is going to a pulmonary specialist this week to get an assessment.
Today I started reading about emphysema on COPDConnection. Respiratory therapist Jane M. Martin has several helpful posts, including “Keeping a Medical Notebook for COPD” and “‘Is That Good?’ Understanding Vital Signs.”
I sent both SharePosts to my Dad and used our new “heart” system to thank Jane for each one. I’m sure I will be looking at medical reports for my father and Jane’s posts helped me understand how worried I should be. Dad was a chemist during his working years and I think the idea of tracking data will appeal to him and make him feel more in control of a potentially scary situation.
I read a few Ask a Question posts as well and gave a heart to LadyInBlue for her comments about narcotics and anti-anxiety medications that are commonly prescribed for people with COPD.
Give a heart
About two weeks ago, we created a way for readers, writers, and community members to say, “Thanks for your help.”
HealthCentral hearts are a symbol for appreciation and respect. Each heart represents an exchange that has helped someone in some way — through good advice, encouragement, or just kind words. Thoughtful participation is key to earning hearts. Each time you make a positive comment, answer a question, or post a SharePost, you open yourself up to earning a heart.
Guests have two hearts to award and registered members have 20 per day. Readers can give hearts to Experts, Contributors, and Community Members.
Previously we had a “This helped!” feedback tool on every Sharepost page. To illustrate past contributions from Expert Patients, we converted “this helped!” votes to hearts. The total number of hearts varies from community to community based on the social nature of the topic (there is more to discuss about RA than acid reflux) and the length of time an Expert Patient has been writing for us.
Feedback and plans for the next iteration
Last week we had a mini-focus group with four of our Expert Patients to get their reactions to our new heart system.
Overall the reaction was positive. Lisa Emrich, who writes for our RA, MS and obesity sites, gathered feedback from members of her communities. Comments included:
“I like the hearts. They give a bit of pizazz/bling to the site.”
“I like that we can assign a heart to individual comments, because I have often thought one is thoughtful, informative, kind, educational, etc.”
“Nice idea! Makes it more of a friendly/family kind of thing.”
“The hearts seem like a good idea and a quick and easy way to giving positive feedback (somewhat similar in context to Facebook’s ‘like’ button), plus easy to use for people who wouldn’t normally take the time to write comments and/or wish to preserve anonymity.”
Another community member suggested that we use the hearts to “create a list that other members could browse.”
The main criticism was that it creates a popularity contest, “Is this high school?” One of our expert patients said, “Our users already have enough challenges without worrying about being liked.”
Several people suggested that “feel-good” posts might win more hearts than posts about treatment options or new research. As we discussed a possible solution, we came up with the idea of two types of hearts: one for posts that are about motivation, accomplishments, or conquering adversity and one for posts that explain a difficult topic or provide more details about a recent study.
I’m afraid that I will need to learn a lot more about COPD. My dad was an athlete when he was young and still has a large garden and many flower beds. It will be hard for him to slow down. I’m sure I will be back on COPDConnection to learn more and give out more hearts.