Post-TEDMED Ruminations About Social Media, Workflow, HatCam Interviews and SMACWL

I usually write a comprehensive trip report in which I try to synthesize major themes. But many folks beat me to that punch, and did great jobs to boot. So I refer you to the following blog posts about patients, data, and big ideas.

This post is mostly a place to reminisce about my experience as a “Social Medial Narrator” at TEDMED (I Received Social Media Credentials to Cover 2013 TEDMED!), include some of my increasingly notorious HatCam One-Minute Interviews (”Hey! You’re the HatCam guy!), and talk about SMACWL tech (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, Workflow and Language technologie) as it relates to TEDMED’s “The Hive” showcase of healthy IT startups.

Speaking of HatCam, there it is, that little black dot hovering just above my right eye, attached to a red ball cap. I tweeted out One-Minute Video interviews during TEDMED. Their tweets are embedded at the end of this blog post.

As I put it just before TEDMED…

And there certainly were! Below I compare #TEDMED and #HIMSS13 Twitter statistics. Over roughly the same duration, three-and-a-half days, #TEDMED garnered more people generating more tweets and impressions (about the same number of tweets per person and less than half the number of tweets per hour — no, I don’t know how to reconcile that!).


I was one of 20 (”The Tweetin’ Twenty!”) TEDMED Great Challenge Social Media Narrators. I contributed 243 tweets on the #TEDMED hashtag (putting me in the top ten most prolific tweeters) and 80 tweets on the #GreatChallenges hashtag. Most of these latter tweets were during the Eliminating Medical Errors workshop to which I was assigned.

Funny thing about walking around, as I did, with a camera on my head. It attracted what Ervin Goffman, a famous micro-sociologist, called “civil inattention”. Unlike HIMSS, where the reaction was “Cool! You’ve got a camera on your head!” at TEDMED the reaction was “(I’m ignoring the camera on your head because nothing here surprises me and I’m sure you have a good reason for wearing it there.)” On the other hand, I could march up to anyone, any booth, into any workshop, and say: “I’m one of twenty TEDMED social media narrators. Do you mind if I…” and each and every time the crowd would part like the Red Sea.

There was an interesting episode in the Eliminating Medical Error workshop. I was typing away. My netbook has LOUD keys. Tickety-Tickety-Tickety. And I’m tweeting about some very emotional and sad stuff. Folks not even attending the workshop, or TEDMED for that matter, are retweeting and replying to me. I’m retweeting, replying, viewing links, as appropriate. And then I clicked on a link to a very loud video. And my netbook’s sound was at max. And everyone in the workshop stopped and turned around a looks at me.

I turned a bit red and explained that as I’m tweeting zeitgeist I’m getting lots of reactions. Sympathetic tweets. Outraged tweets. Tweets to blog posts with similar stories. And that I’d just clicked on a link to a video someone tweeted to me. No, I hadn’t wandering off and surfed irrelevant material.

Tickety-Tickety-Tickety. I definitely got the feeling that folks were aware of me, aware I was tweeting, aware the workshop discussants had a world-wide audience. (I included the above tweet to make the point. The sound of people tapping on laptop keys really is a kind of applause.) At one point, someone paused, looked at me, and said, dramatically, “Don’t tweet what I’m about to say.” (No, I won’t tell you.) Kinda like when the judge says to a stenographer, “Strike that from the record!”

At another point I felt the need to shift from dispassionate reporter to contributing participant. I timidly raised my hand among several. There was an intense discussion going on. The excellent workshop leader interrupted the discussion, ignored others whose hands went up before mine, and said, “Is there something urgent on social media?” (in a sincere, not sarcastic tone). I felt sort of bad to disappoint everyone, “No, I just wanted to add a thought to the discussion….”

About SMACWL. (TEDMED “The Hive” Companies and The Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, Workflow and Language Technologies) These are my mental keywords I use to categorize, sort, and aggregate interesting startups and technologies. Twenty-three of the companies that TEDMED showcased in “The Hive” ended up with SMACWL profiles in the website. I had lots of fun tweeting links to these #SMACWL profiles and the online interactions that followed.

Two observations about the twenty-three companies for which I created profiles. First, every one of SMACWL categories ended up with at least a couple startups — except language tech! Companies focusing on natural language processing (the engineering) and computational linguistics (the science) weren’t represented. I’m not sure what to make of this. Natural language processing systems rely on machine learning applied to massive amounts of natural language text. Natural language processing (and speech recognition) make possible different and innovative user interfaces for both clinicians and patients. It will be interesting to compare next year’s TEDMED “The Hive” companies with this years in this respect.

The second observation is about workflow. Since I tweet about healthcare workflow (closing in on 20,000 tweets!) and blog about healthcare workflow (over 200 posts on this blog), I’m always looking for the workflow angle. The two TEDMED “The Hive” companies that stood out, to me, in this regard are Starling and Sense Health:

In each case I dug around their website to pull out the bit that I think should interest folks who follow me or read my blog because they are interested in workflow technology in healthcare. Interesting stuff! Love to hear your thoughts!

Finally, here are my HatCam One-Minute Interviews (including one of me, hat in hand, literally).

I arrived at The Kennedy Center before 7:00 AM on the 19th. And promptly “HatCam’ed” myself. Where’s the hat? It’s in my hand!

First thing, I had to get some One-Minute Interviews tweeted:

Not sure why the above YouTube preview doesn’t auto-expand, so here is a photo to show you how nice and friendly Pat Salber appears and is!

Hmm. I wonder if Google Glass will make my HatCam obsolete. Eventually, I suppose, my HatCam might become like a hood ornament (my “brand”, so to speak) or the figurehead on a ship (menacing evil spirits and conveying my wealth and power :) ).

Thank you for reading (or at least, skipping) to the very end of this piece!

As always, yours truly, and you can follow me at…

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