Social Media and Technology Are Key Topics at AcademyHealth Meeting

Jun 13, 2011, 4:06 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

Creating an agenda on your smart phone? An app development challenge? Using Twitter feeds as study data? All this and more was highlighted at the opening day of the AcademyHealth Annual Research meeting yesterday in Seattle.

Embracing innovation in approach and technology was a key focus of AcademyHealth CEO and President Dr. Simpson’s opening remarks to the meeting attendees.

“While AcademyHealth and the field we represent enjoy broad support and respect among those who know us well, there remain significant opportunities to educate policymakers about the work we do and its impact,” Dr. Simpson said.

Strategies to achieve this impact, said Dr. Simpson, include remaining relevant by embracing innovations and new opportunities.

The keynote speaker for the opening session was Molly Coye, M.D, M.P.H., Chief Innovation Officer at the UCLA Health System. Coye said new technologies are important because they support engagement, not just dissemination.

A key example she noted was an observational study conducted by patient members of a community called PatientsLikeMe. Following publication of a small study showing that lithium might slow down symptoms of ALS, patient members created their own observational trial to see if the drug would help them.

Although they weren’t able to replicate the earlier study results, the PatientsLikeMe data was published in Nature Biology, a peer-reviewed journal. Said Coye: “This has the potential to change who pays for research – prompting industry, foundations and providers who need information to support it and to generate new tools and sources of information.”

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This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.