Jennifer Shine Dyer: Social media&healthcare

I heard about Jennifer Shine Dyer via Leah McDougald’s tweets from TedxColumbus, where Dyer was presenting.

Dyer is a pediatric endocrinologist (who went into med school with a literature and journalism background). She is currently using social media to provide support to her teenage diabetic patients between visits, since diabetes never sleeps. It was a bold step when she moved from fax to email communications, and now many teens use texts and Facebook and tweets more often than email — they think “only old people use email.”

Here is a good audio interview with Dyer about the future of the patient experiencemeeting them where they are instead of forcing them to play by old standards, looking at integrating the technology they are already using to enhance the services we need to provide. This not only helps her patients, it also reconnected Dyer with what she loved about the medical profession (direct patient contact) in the first place. She also touches on privacy and HIPA concerns in the interview.

Additionally, Dyer went further to develop an iPhone app to send automated, personalized texts. The doctor needs an iPhone, but the patients just need texting capabilities. She talks about all this in her TedXColumbus presentation:

(Good storytelling in the beginning: 1 patient//2 paths. One path where she took her insulin regularly in her 20s and the other where she didn’t: Paris vs. blindness. Also good storytelling in the “how to use the app” with iphone wireframe/screenshots told through a narrative.)

And for those interested in food and childhood obesity, her full bio also says she is “developing a medical program in connection with the ongoing ‘Food is Elementary’ 28-week nutrition literacy program for young children through a non-profit organization Local Matters…in an effort to prevent childhood obesity progression at the community level.” Dunno much more than that, but you can ask her more about it!

Dyer’s online @EndoGoddess.

I’m loving:

  • the use of social media to “meet people where they are” in providing a social service such as healthcare.
  • the user-centered thinking behind this kind of story — from both medical provider and patient sides
  • the collaboration between Dyer and a programmer who contacted her through Twitter; and that they leveraged existing software and online tools to build the app
  • the “design thinking” they went through without their ever having a Designer involved.
  • AND the enormous opportunities we have as designers if we can collaborate with people, experts in their own fields — who either provide or benefit from these services

2 thoughts on “Jennifer Shine Dyer: Social media&healthcare”

With HIPAA laws preventing patients from even emailing their doctors this seems unlikely. While using technology to reach patients is GREAT the restrictions by law seem to hinder this greatly.

There should be more doctors who care for patients on this level. I’m not sure how many teens or adults would respond to this sort of “treatment” but I personally would much rather text/email a doctor than try to call OR send a fax (seriously!?).

As with any patient the more educated and enabled they are to control their disease the more fulfilling life can be. Technology can provide diabetics with many tools to help control and monitor their diabetes but it has yet to be made simple and available.

I look forward to advancements in the field but also realize that this is deeply rooted in the health care system itself. Keep pushing it forward!

true! every small innovation has to also keep in mind the system context, and the first layer of figuring out what those larger system connections are is talking to the people who would use these tools — in this case people who have diabetes and need ways to communicate with their doctors. designers need to be able to zoom in and out of every problem space and solution and keep pushing forward at all scales

i think privacy is an issue in a lot of the things being developed in the mobile space in general, since it’s all still so new. and maybe doing design work in the medical and education fields that have to deal with strict privacy laws (as constraints or design criteria) will help us address those privacy issues in a broader sense.

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