Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

Editorial

Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

Editorial

Article excerpt

On April 3, I got hooked. On that spring evening, an eaglet hatched in a nest high above a fish hatchery in Decorah, Iowa, and social media ceased to be a world into which I ventured only occasionally; it became a part of my everyday life. Each day I checked www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles, the Ustream page of the small nonprofit the Raptor Resource Project. Enchanted, I watched the antics of the eaglet, her two siblings, and their devoted mom and dad. The three tiny fluff balls grew into "juvies" with seven-foot wingspans and eventually left the nest. I was far from the only one following along - the video stream received more than 200 million views in just a few months. The eagle family's daily life became a sort of reality TV through YouTube, Facebook, and Ustream. Engaged viewers donated so generously that the project exceeded its 2012 funding needs within a few weeks of the eaglets hatching.

The outstanding response to the Decorali eagles shows the transformative power of social media. The winter issue ?? Frontiers explores how we can harness its power in healthcare. Feature authors Denny Angelle and Clare Rose, FACHE, see social media "as an opportunity to extend a conversation with our patients and with the community at large and share our culture with a larger base of like-minded people - a virtual street corner where people [can] gather to talk about their interests." Social media connects us with our communities, advancing conversations that can improve services today and will shape the healthcare of the future.

One daunting aspect of social media is that it is not fully within any one person's control. This decentralization can be a positive or negative force. Social media is a vehicle for the individual to have a voice in real time - and real time is a great time to be involved. Christina Beach Thielst explains, "Social media presents a tremendous, lowcost opportunity to hear what patients and their families and friends have to say. …

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