Why visit this Blog?

Conveying useful healthcare system information, including for organ donation and transplantation, as well as a social media emphasis.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Insights Gained from the Implementation of a Content Curation Strategy

Towards the end of 2011 the then new Scoop.it  content curation platform became available online. This precipitated the formulation of a strategy for content curation from the world wide web in close to real time for a niche area within healthcare. The strategy implementation would need to be iterative and undertaken in a stepwise manner in order to meet sustainability goals.

The first topic chosen for a domain on the Scoop.it platform was solid organ donation and transplantation. The focus would predominantly be on curating relevant news, patient stories and other related social media advocacy that would all be of interest to a general audience. The web sub site was named Organ Donation Transplant Matters (ODTM) and a logo generated. For the first 3 months highly selective filters were placed on the RSS feeds via the back end of the Scoop.it platform in order to not overwhelm the resources allocated towards curation activities. When it became apparent after the first month that only 1% of the visible RSS feeds were being posted, the filters were then significantly loosened such that as many information sources as possible could then be tapped into.

Consideration was subsequently given to establishing a second related domain on the Scoop.it platform and this was implemented 4 months after the first. The second sub site would have more of a professional focus and  hence would contain curated reports, guidelines and professional opinion on organ donation and transplantation. This second sub site was named Organ Donation Transplant Matters Resources (ODTMR). Only good quality material would be selected for posting which meant that more highly selective filters were able to be placed right from the start on the RSS feeds for the ODTMR sub site.

So after three years what are the lessons learned? Metrics available via the back end of the Scoop.it platform now provide data on the most reliable sources for posts. In addition the Scoop.it platform has been progressively re-engineered such that there is now far more interaction between the curator and the platform. The low rate of postings onto the ODTM sub site means that the filters for these particular RSS feeds will now be significantly altered (and tightened). 

Whereas for the ODTMR sub site, the RSS feed filters can and will be progressively altered in an ongoing iterative manner to include some of the suggestions which are now beginning to be made available from the Scoop.it end. In addition feedback can be provided to Scoop.it on which types of links are not useful.

This ongoing steady optimization of the RSS feeds for curation purposes, contributes to efficiency and efficacy goals both continuing to be met. With the ongoing increase in online activity year upon year it is apparent that effective content curation requires the use of an online tool that is also changing in parallel to meet the increasing demands of dealing with the burgeoning flow of online information.  

This is part of the humarithm philosophy (the interaction between humans and technology), underpinning the ongoing evolution of the Scoop.it platform from which this curator is one of the many continuing to benefit.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why Innovation is a hot topic in the health care sector

It is relatively easy for anyone who works in the healthcare sector to concentrate only on the day to day, week to week activities which are the major focus of ones working life. So what do you think of when you hear the term 'Innovation' being used? Do you think of innovation as being like the light bulb switching on (i.e. a new idea), or perhaps even a new process?

In fact innovation is a little more complicated than just being a light bulb moment. You can have the best idea in the world but if it does not translate into an outcome that results in some fundamental change, then it remains ..... just an idea.

One of the best definitions of Innovation can be found via Wikipedia and involves the notion of doing something differently versus just doing something better.

Due to the ongoing challenges faced across the world in the healthcare sector  'Innovation' is beginning to feature in the parlance of a number of major healthcare organizations. Examples include the Center for Innovation Mayo Clinic , the Cleveland Clinic Innovations Centre as well as the web portal for the Innovation Dashboard NHS in the United Kingdom.

What all of these organizations have in common, is an understanding at the leadership level of the importance of harnessing the untapped talents of all of the employees. This is in order to bring about the types of ongoing fundamental change that will enable increasing value to be derived from the allocation of resources within the organization. This involves building both a community and culture for innovation within the organization. This process requires that a number of  elements be in place as summarized in the following graphic-

So why is it important for healthcare organizations to embrace innovation? As outlined in this online post via the Harvard Business Review there remain a number of unmet challenges facing healthcare organizations and hence embracing innovation is one strategy for addressing these challenges,                                                  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Decided about organ and tissue donation? - DonateLife Australia Video

This well put together video has been produced in order to inform Australians of the importance of organ and tissue donation and what is required to ensure that as many people as possible can then benefit

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Why a cirrhotic liver needs to be replaced with a transplanted liver.

Often during conversations that transplant surgeons have with potential candidates for liver transplantation procedure, it can take a while to reach an understanding of exactly why the whole liver needs to be replaced. Particularly as this will involve major surgery along with waiting for a suitable liver from an organ donor. Also there are currently no other types of medical treatment which can reverse end stage liver disease once it is diagnosed.

With the liver being hidden from view under the right lower rib cage at the top of the abdomen as described in this British Liver Trust post, it can be hard for any individual with liver disease to know exactly what is going on. Plus many types of liver disease in the early stages do not usually lead to specific symptoms such as abdominal pain or the development of yellow jaundice.

So by the time the symptoms of chronic liver disease do occur there is often already a significant amount of liver scarring present, i.e. there is cirrhosis.  This means that the underlying disease process in the liver can already be well advanced. Cirrhosis affects the whole liver and the scarring process turns the liver from being a slightly soft triangular shaped organ into being a far harder, scarred organ with lots of nodules. This can be seen in the image below or via watching this video What is cirrhosis of the liver?  


Cirrhosis can also lead to other significant changes occurring within the abdomen which also tend not to be visible until this type of liver damage is well advanced. Changes like the accumulation of fluid lead to abdominal swelling and this is otherwise known as ascites. Increased pressure within certain veins in the abdomen cause a condition known as portal hypertension which can lead to major bleeding from the junction of the oesophagus with the stomach.  In advanced cirrhosis yellow jaundice and problems with kidney function may also occur. Further information on liver disease and cirrhosis can be obtained via the MedLine Plus WebMD or the American Liver Foundation sites.

Hence this is why in the advanced stages of many of the chronic liver diseases which lead to cirrhosis, liver transplantation is currently the only long lasting effective treatment, because the whole diseased liver must be replaced. As yet other therapies such as stem cells and bio engineered organs are nowhere close enough to being considered effective therapies for this condition.
If you are a patient receiving treatment for liver disease or a relative you should always check with your doctor that any information you source online is appropriate for your circumstances.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why ‘every tablet every time’ is so important for transplant recipients

No conversation about an organ transplant surgical procedure is complete without mention being made of one other important topic. That is the absolute necessity for additional medicines to be given post transplant, otherwise known as the ‘immunosuppressive medications’. So why are these types of medicines needed? Why do transplant recipients need to understand the importance of the saying “every tablet every time”?
Well it is all about the fact that our ‘immune system’ is designed to protect us by repelling anything from entering our bodies that is not made up of our own tissue. This includes bacteria, viruses and yes vital transplanted organs. A very general overview of how our immune system works can be obtained via this YouTube video.

Hence these white blood cells (lymphocytes), and other related factors need to be kept suppressed by medications as summarised in this article via  News Medical This prevents the newly transplanted organ from being ‘rejected’.

These extra medications will commence in most cases around the time that the organ transplant surgical procedure occurs. Initially quite high dosages are usually required and as a result side effects may occur, as summarised via this article from the National Kidney Foundation 

In order to limit the long term consequences of all of the possible side effects from these medications, many transplant recipients will ultimately be managed on the lowest dose that is possible. Hence why taking “every tablet every time” is essential. Skipping medications can allow the immune system to be triggered, which then contributes to premature loss of the vital transplanted organ. No one wants this outcome.

General information on ‘immunosuppressive medications’ can also be obtained via web sites maintained by legitimate professional organisations for e.g. eMedicine Medscape or Up to Date

NB: Immunosuppressive medication regimens do vary markedly, as there are many factors which go into the decision making as to which medications are suitable for each recipient. Hence this is why all transplant recipients if they have any concerns over their medications, need to also seek advice from their treating doctor.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Using Social Media for information streaming in healthcare

Are you in health care and accessing social media for work purposes? Are you also comfortable with using some of the current social media platforms as tools for the streaming of information that meets your needs? If so, the following information is probably not new. However, if you do not fit in either of these two categories, then feel free to read on.

The amount of information related to health care is burgeoning whether it be in the form of facts, published scientific reports, or related to other day to day work processes. Much of this information is now sourced electronically including via the Internet. This situation has not gone unnoticed in some areas with there being an increasing realisation that somehow all of this needs to be managed. At times individuals can feel like they are "trying to drink from a fire hydrant" (Mitchell Kapoor) as pictured.

This same analogy was featured in a blog written by a medical student in Scientific American Blog-Unofficial Prognosis where the impact of this information deluge on medical students was explored.

So how can you use social media to help with your information needs regardless of where you are in the health sector? Plus why might this now be an increasingly important topic? First you need to gain familiarity with use of the most common social media platforms which include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linked In (see below image). Then you need to ascertain which organizations, groups and individuals are relaying information via these platforms which can help meet your learning needs. As it turns out an increasing number of organizations are relaying important information via social media.


For example if you have recently joined Twitter but still feel a little unsure of how to go about finding the organizations or individuals of interest, the good news is that help is at hand. This is in the form of the Symplur hashtags project- @healthhashtags Via this Symplur web site you can find hashtags including for organizations, communities of practice(eg nursing, medicine, audiology), diseases, treatments, management and informatics. As a result of exploring the hashtags you will also be able to find relevant organizations, plus individuals on Twitter as well as their related web sites and other social media channels. As everyone has slightly different learning needs in health care, this is why it is now important that you know how to source useful information for yourself.

Finally feel free to explore, find like minded individuals and most important of all continue to learn! Also take some time to check out advice that is available on the safe use of social media platforms eg for Facebook via reputable channels including Mashable Social Media.