Guest commentary: AHSM goes virtual for inaugural meeting
It is with excitement that we at the Association of Healthcare Social Media announce that the inaugural meeting for the AHSM will be taking place virtually on July 26 and August 8. Like many organizations, we originally intended for an in-person meeting and initially postponed.
Though the plan was to still hold the meeting in-person, the current transition to virtual format in all aspects of our lives and the fact that we are a social media-based organization led to the decision to embrace technology and obviate the need for costly travel.
Likewise, it has made it easier to get our speakers involved and have everyone participate without having to convene physically in one place. People will still get the benefits of what our meeting has to offer virtually by hearing from experts and engaging in the online discussion.
Tips, pitfalls, advocacy, research
The basic idea behind this whole meeting is to touch on several different areas of social media use in health care. The way that we have structured the program now is that there are four separate sessions spread across two evenings (since we understand people may not want to sit through a day’s worth of online presentations after working virtually).
We have split it into several areas such as building a social media presence, being aware of the risks of utilizing social media as health professionals and also advocacy. Now, more than ever, advocacy is important, and we plan to cover social media’s role in driving change in movements such as Times Up Healthcare and Black Lives Matter as well as in dispelling misinformation in the era of COVID-19.
Another highlight of our agenda is research. It is something that we are emphasizing more in the virtual format. We opened up abstract submission thinking we would get a few submissions as it is our first year, but we ended up getting a good number of quality research submissions. We wanted to be able to highlight the projects people were sharing with us.
Increasingly, we are seeing more and more people across various specialties involved in trying to understand how social media can impact public health. There are going to be oral presentations on those research projects, and we are going to promote research on our social media channels as well. It will be a good addition to our original program.
Social media constantly changes
We have some really influential members of the health professional social media community presenting at our virtual conference. The whole purpose behind our organization is to help other health professionals use social media not only effectively but also responsibly. Many of our experts have years of experience and have captivated large audiences with their content. Our speakers are also well-versed in utilizing the latest social media platforms for a variety purposes in health, from educating the general public to inspiring pre-health students.
Some of us have fallen into situations where we have learned lessons, whether it’s been conflicts with institutions, safety concerns with increased public exposure or other issues. These viewpoints are helpful for our attendees to hear because they are real and they can help others take the leap into social media. Many health care professionals have qualms about getting on social media and at the same time, we need those expert voices to spread accurate information. Hopefully this conference will give people a new perspective.
I am looking forward to these discussions because this space is gray and undefined – partly by design. Social media platforms are evolving all the time. I have learned from trial and error myself, and to hearing how other people navigate certain situations has helped me. With this conference, the hope is that our attendees learn as many of these lessons at one fell swoop and also anticipate what is on the horizon.