Today we have a guest post written by wonderful Ankylosing Spondylitis Activist, Jenna Visscher from her community The Feeding Edge (@ArtAppleADay). The post is a Health Activist’s perspective on last night’s very first Pharma Twitter Chat hosted by AstraZeneca (@AstraZenecaUS). Jenna offers us all hope as she takes an encouraging approach to the chat, realizing the limitations that both patients feel and Pharma is trapped behind. Her three take-aways are right on and I eagerly await more chats so we can hear more from Jenna. Thanks for volunteering your blog post with us, Jenna!
A Health Activist Take on Last Night’s #Rxsave Chat
Tonight I sat in on and contributed to the first twitter chat with a major pharmaceutical company. AstraZeneca held a one hour chat to help raise awareness about savings programs and patient prescription assistance and how they might use social media to better reach out to our communities.
AstraZeneca is not alone in their efforts to help patients afford the medications they need. Most of us know where to point our respective communities to find the various programs but what is new and of note is that pharma is finally engaging us, the health advocate bloggers, social media activists, and patients.
The buzz started earlier in the day and I monitored the #rxsave feed. I was disturbed but understood that there were a few who insisted on focusing on the negatives. As a passionate voice for health advocacy, I can understand some of this. We all have stories, but as health activists we have a responsibility to attempt to buffer some of the vitriol. I blog and speak up about Ankylosing Spondylitis because I’ve gone through the years of anger and negotiating the health care system. Many of the people for whom I advocate and fight for are the ones in the worst of the beginning years of understanding their illness and doing their absolute best to just get by. In a twitter chat with AZ anger is counterproductive. We want progress and communication from these engagements and I am fearful that they might stop if we attack instead of find common ground.
I had an agenda to tweet and represent us as a whole and share my thoughts with WEGO bloggers about how chats can benefit us so that we can then relay that information to our followers. Here are some of my observations:
- I like to think that there is always common ground if you look hard enough. It’s easy to be afraid to have these types of discussions and in the past I did everything I could to tweet without getting into debate. If we hold onto the kindness that is part of why we blog and advocate to begin with then we can disagree yet progress. Since our goals are to better the system, our voices will be respected by not only our communities but by the health care industry.
- The more we speak up the greater our power. It is a difficult road to find and rally the community to go beyond the silent majority. I’ve struggled with remaining silent for years and we know that stigmas and judgments remain. The power of health 2.0 resides with us as long as we work together and speak out!
- Many health care professionals don’t believe social media venues like Twitter are a way to effectively communicate. They think teams of attorneys and FDA regulations will impede an open and honest discourse. Except for a few spoilers this chat was a great start. The topic wasn’t what was important, it was the historic nature of the event and we are having a big impact. AZ asked for the top three best ideas for reaching patients and one of the three was health advocate bloggers!
Social media in health care is here to stay and AstraZeneca took the first brave step last night. I am extremely encouraged that the conversations have commenced and I look forward to the day we find a symbiotic relationship. Congratulations my friends on a job well done!