Beyond Webinars – Let’s start conversations

I recall when Virtually Connecting first launched, we (Maha Bali and I) published an article Prof Hacker title Beyond Twitter: Virtually Connecting at Conferences. I’m now working on Virtually Connecting in the ePatient space – looking at ways we can bring patient into conversations. I feel the need to write something called Beyond Webinars – Let’s start conversations.

I regularly have people point me to these “great things” on social media, which turn out to be experts talking to each other or presenting PowerPoint slides. These are one way webinars. The goal of them is to broadcast information, so that we can “absorb” this knowledge from experts. I do think there is a place for webinars, but I also don’t think we need more of them. The are a time sync. They are one way transmission of information. They rarely include the patient voice.

Virtually Connecting is trying to do something different. We are not trying to be a webinar. We are not trying to broadcast information – although we do archive our conversations and I’m in the process of transcribing them (I welcome helpers in transcription). So, we do create something that can be watched or read and referenced – but that isn’t the point. The point of Virtually Connecting is to connect people.

A friend shared with me an article about Kate Granger – a very well known patient advocate from the UK that died Saturday from an aggressive form of cancer.  She started a very active campaign known as #hellomynameis, that changed the way doctors and healthcare workers interact with patients. I am happy to report that all my doctors begin with a greeting of some kind. I feel like a person – and when I see a new doctor and they don’t treat me like a person, I move on – I replace them. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option for many people. Anyways, that isn’t my point. My point is that Kate’s message was about trying to put humanity back into medical care. Patients are people, not numbers or diseases.

In some ways this is what I’m seeing with Webinars. Patients are being talked down to. Experts are recruited to lecture us about what we need to be doing, but they are talking from a standpoint of health privilege. They may mechanically know about our diseases, but they don’t know what it is like to actually live with the disease. The don’t get the effect that side effects can have on our lives.

I want to see more conversations rather than lectures. I want to replace the webinars with people talking to each other – telling stories but also interacting in meaningful ways. Sure, there is a place for webinars, but they are not the be-all and end-all of what we can do. Virtually Connecting is trying to do something different. Let’s move beyond the webinar, and start having meaningful conversations.

Virtually Connecting ePatient sessions are announced at http://VirtuallyConnecting.org and archived at http://virtuallyconnecting.org/vc-epatient/

Feature Image: CCO from Pixabay

2 Comments

  1. I pushed this for years when I worked for the New Media Consortium, and ran several webinar shows and podcasts in a conversational format. Unfortunately in their futuristic visioning they completely flushed all the web sites and media I produced for them, so nothing much to link.

    But what I remember vividly is that the feel, the flavor of it changed when it has not a content delivery session. It also meant a lot least prep for the guest, they did not have to slap together slides and plan a talk. It was never add libbed, but it took maybe 1-3 emails to generate a rough set of talking points, but never something like a script.

    That’s why I love what we do in Virtual Connecting.

    Of course this is a whole new ball game with ePatients, and I’m anxious to see where you go. The stakes in the conversation are so so much higher, and more meaningful, with the personal stake in it of our own health (for the patients), and a chance to lower the mantle of Expertiness for the health providers if they can listen, and get their empathy hats on.

  2. Becky, like this idea. The feeling I get from webinars is one of being detached, passive and a kind of indirect disrespect of me as a unique person being presumed to see myself somewhere within the generic’ness of the speaker’s needs to deliver a message over and over. Or, more specifically: webinars are structured encounters where the participants have no “ownership” of environment–like a doctors office. While VirtuallyConnecting, though it is mediated through distance has the natural dynamics of people together without “authority” in the room. Like being in the waiting room with other patients.
    There are a couple of organizations I’ve heard of claiming to be “the voice of the patient” and I’ve contacted them without any response back. Anyway, expecting they want ME and my voice is an absurdity, they just want an audience to affirm their fake caring construct.
    Enough ranting, this sounds like a good idea and a difficult design problem. How do we judge authenticity and inclusiveness in “care” when as patients we are treated like objects?

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