I just had a major revelation over the Thanksgiving weekend. I realized that my social network includes many people within the healthcare industry and that those people, if they worked together, could have a dramatic impact on the future of healthcare. Some of these people work for “big pharma” or medical device companies. Others run successful non-profits or have launched healthcare technology startups. Some others provide consulting to the industry and have been responsible for many of the positive changes in healthcare over the years.
At the same time, I realized that there are a lot of people out there that still need a lot of help from the healthcare community. This might be support for an important initiative, the ear of someone who can bring a new idea or product innovation to life, or even help paying for a prescription. I realized that it would be simple to bring together many of the people that could help fulfill some of these ideas and requests with those that need help. That’s why I created Healthy Thinkers.
The concept is simple. People submit their idea or requests to the community. The community discusses and votes up the best of these. From there, the community uses all of its social connections to make sure the idea or request gets in front of someone who can actually make it happen. It’s a “degrees of separation” concept. Among all the people that will read this post (and hopefully many more who will join the community), we’re probably only a few degrees of separation away from that key person. For example, maybe someone has an innovative idea for how J&J can improve its OneTouch diabetes monitoring products. I would guarantee that someone reading this post right now knows someone on the OneTouch product team. I’ve found out over the years that our healthcare “family” is pretty small.
I was inspired to put Healthy Thinkers together by a few things. First, it was requests that I received to help people out with healthcare-related requests. The first of these was the Diabetes Hands Foundation who asked me to help them spread the word about their Big Blue Test initiative. I did via this blog post and they far exceeded their goal (not just through my efforts to be sure). Right around the same time, someone asked me if I knew anyone at a certain medical device company so that they could contact them to ask for supplies for a mission trip to Africa. I did and this person got what he needed. And within days of that, an acquaintance asked if I knew how to get a discount on her new medication, as it was way too expensive for her. I knew someone from the product team for the brand she was prescribed and that person got my acquaintance enrolled in one of the brand’s assistance programs. It was a bit fortunate that I personally could help facilitate each of these, but I realized that I don’t know everyone and maybe I just got a little lucky.
So, not one to count on luck, my idea is simple: bring together a bunch of people who have connections throughout healthcare with those that need some type of assistance or support and start solving some problems. You see, I think we do an awful lot of talking, so let’s do something instead.
Pharma companies…you want to know how to get involved in social media? Get involved in this community and offer to help where you can. Nothing but positive PR awaits you.
Consultants and ad agency people…you want to use your skills to help people directly beyond what you do for clients? Join the community and use your contacts to solve some problems.
Patients, caregivers, non-profits…you need help or advice from some key people in healthcare? Come to the community and tell us how we can help.
Will this work? Well, here’s what I know. One of my favorite sites is Reddit. No one is going to claim for a second that this is a serious community of any kind (hilarious as it may be). Think of it as a much better version of Digg. Recently, I started to notice some people asking for real help on the site and actually getting it. I did a little more research and came across a post called “Reddit’s Astonishing Altruism.” Some of the acts include users paying for a shopping spree for a dying girl, helping track down a murderer, and bringing a family music heirloom to life (read that one for sure). However, I noticed that there two things on this list that Reddit shouldn’t have had to handle, but did: buying a new wheelchair for someone who couldn’t afford one and buying a new type of hearing aid for a young woman who was deaf since she was 7.
My question is why couldn’t our community handle this? For instance, our agency has worked with one of the leading manufacturers of wheelchairs in the world and I personally know someone who works for a leading hearing aid company. Knowing these folks, I’m sure they could have persuaded their companies to donate these items.
Call me idealistic if you want, but I think we can do better. I think we have a responsibility to do this and we can do a lot of good with very little effort. So, here’s your call to action:
- Register. Sign up and tell us who you are. You can be semi-anonymous if you’d like. If you’re a company that might be able to help, start monitoring this forum for places you can help. If you can’t do this, we’ll find you when we need you.
- Advocate. Spread the word to as many people in healthcare as you can. We need not only the people who can deliver on these ideas and requests, but also people who are going to submit them. So, don’t just tell the people around your office, share it with friends on Facebook too. Know people in the press? Tell them too.
- Participate. Start a post, comment on an existing one, and vote.
- Solve. If you see an idea or request you can help with, step up. Respond or pass it along to a contact who can make it happen.
If you want to spread the word about Healthy Thinkers, here’s some shortcuts. Click Like to share on Facebook. Include a comment so your friends actually notice it in their News Feed.
Or send a tweet about the community:
We’ll be posting success stories as they happen and also updates on big needs that still aren’t fulfilled on the blog for Healthy Thinkers (still a work in progress, so bear with me). Also, the top ideas and requests will automatically be tweeted by the @HealthyThinkers Twitter account, so follow that to see what’s new and hot on the site.
Over the next few days, I’ll be introducing you to some volunteer “Connectors” who are going to help moderate the site, but also have agreed to use some of their extensive connections to make sure these ideas and requests get done. If you’re interested in becoming one, then send me a message.
One final point, Healthy Thinkers is a completely non-profit, non-promotional effort. There is no money to be made, so don’t join up if you’re looking to promote yourself or your company. I’ve already told you what the site is for, so I hope that motivates every one of you to take a look.