Of all the social media options out there Pinterest is by far my favorite. I’ve been using Facebook since 2007, long before it became a mainstream thing. At that time, I used it to talk (OK, make sarcastic jokes back and forth) with the four other friends who used it. Now that it has evolved, I mostly use it to keep in touch with friends and share photos with my family. I don’t use it for professional purposes, that’s what I use Twitter for.
The first time I used Twitter was when I set up an account during the 2009 inauguration of President Obama. I was traveling from Chicago to Washington, D.C., by bus with the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association. Of course I was writing a traditional print article about the experience, but we thought that new “Twitter thing” might add some value and interest to the story. After that, I didn’t touch my Twitter account until 2012 when I began blogging for HL7standards.com.
With encouragement (OK, prodding and cajoling) from Chad Johnson, I’ve come around to using Twitter and actually liking it. Twitter is the social media product I use for professional reasons. It helps me keep tabs on what’s going in subject areas I’m interested in like nursing, Health IT, parenting, yoga meditation and wellness. I used to think Twitter was just for telling the “Twitterverse” what I was up to. Which is not that exciting because, in my case, it would involve scooping cat litter boxes and changing diapers. But now I learn about new studies or important articles, learn others’ opinions on topics and meet new and interesting professionals.
Yes, I’ve come around to Twitter, but the social media application that has captured my heart is Pinterest. Honestly I can’t get enough of it and have become a bit of an online hoarder thanks to it. I save recipes, projects and interesting blogs there. Because it makes it so easy to find the links you’ve saved, sharing things with friends is very simple, even when they aren’t into Pinterest themselves. It takes me about 20 seconds to pull-up the Salad in a Jar Link to pass it along. BTW, you should try the salad in a jar…it does work and makes eating healthy very simple. But I digress.
I think the joy of Pinterest is that it’s visually appealing. Because it’s a project board it’s not just a way to store links, it’s a way to find things to do “in real life.” Which is why I think Pinterest has great potential for patients, healthcare providers and Health IT professionals alike. Pinterest isn’t just about showing or telling, it’s about user action.
So let’s check out some examples of how Pinterest can be used in those three ways:
I have a background in neuroscience nursing and have worked with many many epilepsy patients. It’s a difficult disease that takes many forms and many patients suffer from uncertainty.
“What if I have a seizure in public? What if I wet myself during the seizure? What if I scare others when it happens?”
I remember caring for a woman in her mid-twenties who had just been diagnosed with epilepsy. She broke down in tears and told me she thought no one would ever want to date or marry her now that she had epilepsy. One of her favorite things was going off-roading in her Jeep, now she wasn’t even going to be able to drive down the block. At that time the best I could do was, after she fell asleep for the night, go on the Internet and find some lists of support groups to give her.
I really wish Pinterest was around back then (and am thankful that at least the Internet had been invented at that point. Thanks, Al Gore!). Now when I search epilepsy on Pinterest I get a wealth of resources. Like this post Epilepsy Craziness–When a Cold is More than a Cold from the blog Kat’s Cafe. Or a pin from Spectrum Health Services on epilepsy at any age. And my favorite (since I’ve given my unsolicited speech on this more than once), this awesome resource on what to do if you see someone having a seizure. Patients, and not just those with epilepsy, are able to use Pinterest to find out what to do and can easily store that information for repeated reference.
The above example from Spectrum Health is a good one on the power of using Pinterest to get need information to patients while simultaneously getting your name out there (aka marketing). Here’s a pin from the Virginia Women’s Health Center on what nurse practitioners can do for women’s health. I also found a great infographic on the history of nurse practitioners.
Healthcare providers I encourage you to think about your expertise and put it out there to be discovered on Pinterest.
Pinterest is a great way to market what you do, connect with other Health IT professionals and make HIT known to the general public. I found this entertaining pin on Health IT challenges called IT Infirmary. Entertaining, but also a good resource to help check the health of an IT department and actions to take to improve it. There’s a pin to a book called Health Informatics: Practical Guide for Healthcare and Information Technology Professionals. And a pin to MIT’s Technology Review.
How do you think Pinterest can be used by patients, providers and health IT professionals? Do you think it works or is it just a fad better left to Martha Stewart fans? Tell us what you think and how you use Pinterest. ♦
Jennifer Thew, RN, MSJ
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