March 7, 2012

Pinterest for Health is a Beautiful Thing . . . Literally

By meredithgould

Editor’s Note: Meredith Gould, PhD, is a member of the External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

From zero to gazillion miles per hour in weeks -- that's how quickly Pinterest, the latest social media platform has caught on. First adopted by artists, photographers, crafters, and do-it-yourselfers, Pinterest has swiftly captured the attention of marketers across industries. (For a healthcare industry round-up, see: HealthProTalk).

Still, I note a bit of head-scratching among healthcare social media enthusiasts who are busy asking: How could Pinterest be used to generate business and patient engagement? What sorts of content should we be pinning? What sorts of boards should we be creating? What are we to do in the absence of categories for health or medicine?

Great questions, but from my (multiple identity) perspective as an artist, e-Patient, and caregiver, I say there’s nothing wrong – and a lot that’s very wise – with simply focusing on this existing category: Art. I say it’s worth considering the incalculable value of pinning images that can soothe mind and spirit while the body is under siege. I suggest we start asking how Pinterest might be used to enhance someone’s healing process.

Sites like CaringBridge and CarePages make it possible for loved ones to deliver ongoing encouragement for patients and caregivers. Now, imagine using Pinterest boards (individual or shared) to enhance mood and outlook for self and others. Here are some examples from my own self-soothing account: Irises (paintings and drawings of my all-time favorite flower, that will last longer than real irises ever do) and Inspired Healing (images that remind me that while we may not be cured, we can always be healed).  I visit Fractals, Spirals, Cells & bacteria, and Microscopicto remember there’s beauty to be found in the natural sciences, something that really helps when I'm feeling disgusted with all thing medical.

If laughter is the best medicine, can beauty be far behind? Hopefully not.

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