March 28, 2011

Revealing the Backstory

By meredithgould

Meredith Gould is a member of the External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. She originally developed this post for the Social Media Health Network member site. For a list of member organizations and how to join, visit the Network tab.

Here's a sweeping statement that’s probably true: everyone committed to improving health has a health-related backstory. Some, especially those self-identifying as e-patients, talk about their experiences. Others will do so only when asked, "How did you get interested in healthcare?"

I suspect it’s probably safe to say that most industry professionals do not routinely share personal medical information in public and even less so at conferences. Maybe we should. After attending Rhonda Mann’s presentation at the recent Ragan-Mayo Social Media Summit, I’m thinking this might be a valuable way to expand the boundaries of conversation while establishing cred more credible than academic degrees and licensure.

Rhonda’s first PowerPoint slide was an xray image that even non-clinicians could easily recognize as a stunning case of scoliosis. She explained with matter-of-fact good humor that it was hers; she’s fine now.  I absolutely cannot remember if or how she segued into talking about the “Healthy Is _____” campaign, which had nothing to do with orthopedic surgery.

What I do know is that Rhonda captured and kept my full attention with her very personal  first slide. Even more importantly, she inspired me to contemplate the power of revealing backstory.  I invite you to consider this: How might our receptivity to health information – and regard for one another – be enhanced if we routinely told the truth about why we care so much about health?

Here's a video from the BIDMC YouTube channel, in which Rhonda tells her story:

What's your backstory?

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