How to Maximize Your Social Media Experience at #eHealth2017

Challenging time for healthcare innovators in Canada

Colin Hung (@Colin_Hung) is a Toronto-based HealthIT marketing consultant and the founder of #hcldr – one of the largest online healthcare communities on Twitter. He has helped numerous Canadian HealthIT companies expand in Canada and the US.

Last year at e-Health 2016 in Vancouver, Colin was the top Tweeter at the conference. We asked him to share what he is hoping to see at e-Health 2017, why he is so active on social media and what tips he has for those that want to start building their online reputations.

What are you hoping to see at e-Health 2017?

e-Health is the biggest showcase for Canadian healthcare and it is the best place to get an overview of what’s happening from a technology, policy and business perspective. There is no other conference like it in Canada. This year I’m really hoping to find made-in-Canada innovation at e-Health 2017. We have so many smart, passionate people working in our healthcare system who want to improve it. I hope to see innovative thinking/solutions from the presenters and exhibitors at e-Health 2017.

It is a very challenging time for innovation in Canadian healthcare. With healthcare funding under pressure, governments and healthcare organizations are reluctant to invest in innovative solutions. Instead, they revert to the status quo and focus on optimization rather than innovation. I’m hoping to find rebels at e-Health 2017 who are embracing the constraints of Canadian healthcare and coming up with cool solutions to our challenges.

Why are you so active on social media at healthcare conferences?

Using social media at a conference transforms you from a recipient of information to an interactive participant in the event. Social media takes the conference from a run-of-the-mill networking/educational experience and ratchets it up a notch.

Normally at a conference like e-Health, an attendee might meet 25-30 new people (maybe a bit more if you are a masterful networker and attend all the social events). When you use social media you can meet upwards of 50-75 new people at a conference – all because you are sharing the use of the conference hashtag (in this case #eHealth2017).

As well, when you share conference content “live” via social platforms like Facebook Live, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, you help extend the reach of the conference beyond the attendees physically in the building. People across the country and around the world can participate remotely through social media. This helps build the profile of the conference, the speaker and for you as the person sharing the useful content.

Is it rude to live-tweet or snap pictures during conference sessions?

<laughing> I get this question a lot. I think 2 years ago, if you were madly typing on your phone or laptop during a session, people would have assumed you were answering email and ignoring the speaker. However, nowadays I think it’s more accepted that people in the audience are using social media during sessions to share information they are learning or doing further research on the topic and sharing it with their social circles. Tweets, snaps, posts and likes are the new applause.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to use social media for the first time at  2017?

My advice is jump in! Pick any social platform – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram or the e-Health 2017 mobile app and use it to share the useful/fun things you see at e-Health 2017. Don’t worry about constructing the perfect post or tweet, just be yourself and release your thought into the social universe. After a few posts people will start replying to you and pretty soon you’ll have established an online connection.  

You spend a lot of time in the US, what is the funniest misconception you have heard about Canadian Healthcare?

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of misconceptions from our southern neighbours:

  • That the Canadian government has “Death Panels” that decide whether or not to treat terminal patients solely on the basis of cost
  • That Canadians pay a 50% healthcare tax as part of their wages
  • That Canadians are rationed when it comes to healthcare meaning we can only visit the doctor or hospital a certain number of times each year

I think one of the funniest misconceptions I have heard from the US also happens to be one of the saddest:

  • The Canadian healthcare system only allows nurses to practice for 5 years, because after that, their salaries get too high for our system to handle so they leave to be nurses in other countries

This came from a physician who worked at a hospital where they had an extraordinary number of Canadian trained nurses who had left Canada for the greener pastures south of the border.