The Future of Storytelling: The Influence of Fiction on Science

What do Star Trek, Motorola, Stephen Spielberg, Minority Report, Raytheon, @ElonMusk, @JonFavreau, and Iron Man (the movie) have in common? All are examples of how science can influence fiction, and fiction can influence science.

@RobertWong, a graphic designer by training and a driving force behind Google Creative Labs, tells the story of how art, technology & design lovers come together with engineering experts to create the future.  Think Google Glass, cell phones, tricorders and more–What a way to kick off 2014!

For those interested, Wong also hosts a Future of Storytelling Virtual Roundtable Speaker Series weekly on Wednesdays, 12:30pm ET. Click here for more information.

The Future of Health Is Social

I recently came across an old blog post by Lee Aase, Director, Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, Move over Dr. Google, the future of health is social. Aase, a long-time communicator in the political arena, has seemingly picked up the new tools of the trade with a flair all his own for healthcare. This particular post from 2011, alludes to the fact that Google may not have been hitting at the core of how individuals will utilize health information in the future. His post significantly precedes Google folding their health business for good in January of this year.

Already a student and believer of the power of social media to change the way we experience health and illness myself, it’s always nice to have other expert communicators confirm those beliefs. For me, healthcare social media use (or #hcsm on Twitter) is less about the social support that traditional social media tools offer–such as people sharing the same illness connecting–which has tremendous value in and of itself. It is more about the reach, and the following opportunities, social media can provide healthcare stakeholders on the whole. For example, social media tools offer:

For Patients:

  • The ability to gather information in a relaxed setting
  • Access to, and information on, research studies
  • Connections to new resources (peers, providers, educators)
  • Access to answers 24/7
  • Greater transparency to the care they are seeking
  • Behavior change options (see ETY post, The Power of Social Networks to Change Health Behavior)

For Providers:

  • Inspiration
  • Training/Education
  • Support networks of their own
  • Ability to meet patients where they are and stay connected
  • Disease and outbreak tracking

It was, however, the following video in Aase’s old post that was my muse for this post. I can’t help but applaud the growing value of YouTube as a tool for patient education and provider inspiration.

In February 2013, Aase posted an article on Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Health Network, The “Right” Length for Health Videos, which summarizes a Google chat facilitated by Kathi Browne, a healthcare social media consultant. This is a timely discussion, as we are currently at work developing videos that convey patient safety information to associates without overwhelming their already overflowing inboxes. With so much competition for the attention of healthcare associates, what is the best way to get your message heard? We have chosen to go with short, sweet and humorous videos for internal education when possible. What successful strategies and tactics have you employed, beyond the traditional healthcare communication Tool Kits or inservices? Please share!

Here are some related tips gleaned from experience and reading of late!

  • Know your audience!
    According to Aase patients, will pay attention to longer videos, especially if it’s about a rare disease, as there is likely little information available. Overloaded associates will not have time to digest lengthy content. Give them meaningful highlights that both engage and educate.
  • Humor works!
    Make ’em laugh, or make ’em cry…
  • Tell a story that touches the heart!
    People will remember a story told from the heart much longer than slides from a PowerPoint deck. Talk to patients and providers about their experiences in healthcare and share those stories when appropriate.

#SXSW Interactive Top 10 Takeaways for Healthcare in 2013


There were far too many terrific takeaways over the four days I spent at the SXSW Interactive Conference in Austin, TX this past weekend, many of which I promise to elaborate on in the coming weeks. For now–here are my Top 10–really in no particular order, as all will be coming your way in due time. I cannot say enough good things about the SXSW experience — please comment and share your own takeaways if you also attended!

  1. Mobile and Responsive design: For anyone creating content of any kind–this is the bus to be on, and it’s well on its way down the road. As a medical device or a content viewer, for healthcare diagnostics or your favorite magazine–almost any tool or content being developed today needs to have a mobile version ready to go. Responsive design adapts web content to the device it is being viewed upon, and ideally should be a consideration when any content is developed.
  2. Visual presence: Will be key to sharing/driving/conveying ideas. Designers themselves were highly visible speakers, and emphasis was put on good design being the mechanism that will not only introduce the feel, the heart and the soul of your brand or organization, but also break through the sea of content being developed. See Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, two leaders in the news “blogosphere”, for examples.


    MakerBot 3D Printer & Freshly Printed Products

  3. Subtraction: With the exponentially increasing amount of information, data and content coming at us, learning how to remove the unnecessary will be the way to achieve your goal. Knowing when to stay open to the “noise”, and when to tune out, will take discipline for those seeing unlimited opportunity in everything now available to us with the swipe of finger or click of a mouse.
  4. Collaborate: Open source everything! How will medicine respond to this call?
  5. Sensors for health: The body will become the data source of the future. Talk about transparency–Ouch! BodyMedia was one health tech company present sharing their technology for tracking exercise, sleep and calories in a meaningful way.
  6. Change is the new “black”: It’s here, it’s in and begs to be embraced by every generation. There will be much of it heading our way, and it will require all of us to change our behaviors as a result at some point. How will healthcare leaders not only embrace change, but lead change?
  7. Print has a shelf life: While this may not be a news flash to many, it was confirmed by leaders in media and publishing ahead of the game. Not sure when the switch will turn off, but have your digital, interactive content ready to go in responsive design mode.
  8. A good idea is only half the equation: The other half is knowing how you will spread your message. Social and mobile have converged, and will be the main avenues through which all things spread.
  9. Google and android platform: For a dedicated Mac user, this is a conclusion I can no longer ignore. Not sure where this is all heading, but I know I need to understand it better. The openness of the platform alone is worth a deeper understanding. Guy Kawasaki, of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame, puts his manuscripts out on Google docs for his readers to edit. Google Glass appears to be here to stay, and I recently heard David Letterman do a Top 10 on Google Talking Shoes…
  10. “Maker Movement” is here: What tangible content, assets or services are you adding to good of the world? These folks had a strong presence at SXSW, and it’s not just the 3D Printer folks, who admitted we are a ways off from printing spleens any time soon.