Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Do we need a Public Health 2.0 Special Interest Group or eCop

I am wanting to engage with interested Public Health/Health Promotion colleagues around Australian and New Zealand and even around the globe about an idea of establishing a Special Interest Group (SIG) around professional practice and new communications technologies and ideas such as:
·        social media, (including tools such as Blogs, Social network media like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, Webinars, Podcasts, Wikis, Skype, Social bookmarking, RSS and a long list of other tools/methods and settings),
·        mobile phones/smart phones and apps, and
·        changing public expectations for participation, co-creation and engagement linked to Web 2.0.

I think a Special Interest Group should aim to include Public Health/health promotion people from Australia and New Zealand but will obviously have very porous boundaries both geographically and professionally. I open to be persuaded we need a global group.

I have come to realise that health promotion/public health practitioner face many challenges in mastering these newly emerged and emerging Web 2.0 technologies.

The incorporation of these new tools and ideas into our practice will shortly no longer be optional. The uptake of Web 2.0 by the general public continues at an extremely rapid pace and our professional practice lags behind. These new tools also give the people we formally called our 'target groups" new capacities and have been accompanied by new Web 2.0 expectations for opportunities for greater participation and engagement.

Increasingly our audience is no longer happy to go to a static health promotion web page and read our material. They now demand to comment on it, criticise it, improve it and share their ideas throughout their networks. 

These new technologies offer great potential for Health Promotion and Public Health. We are getting new ways of engaging with the public. Increasingly powerful and affordable smart phones give people new capacities. These new media tools potentially offer new ways of reaching and engaging with communities. They are also fantastic collaboration and partnering tools. We are only starting to glimpse the future implications of these changes for Public Health/Health Promotion

However for us as practitioners, the adopting these new tools means involves learning new skills, mastering new jargon and methods, overcoming many practical and organisational barriers, considering and managing novel risks, dealing with policies and procedures that are yet to be updated to take account of new technologies and public expectations.

Not least, adopting these new Web 2.0 tools will involve considering new methods and reconsidering established ideas, models and theories. These new tools have implications for our professional roles, competencies and our professional identities.

It is possible that the new Web 2.0 tools are not just a collection of tools. There collective impacts on out practice have a potential to reshape of our institutions and practice. Hence the terms, Public Health 2.0 and Health Promotion 2.0.

At present I feel that the early adopters of these new ideas are scattered across Australia and that many practitioners feel excited by the potential but daunted by the challenges. People are feeling isolated and are looking for a electronic community of practice (eCoP) to share information, share skills, ideas and solutions. Some people are sensing that this we need to talk how Web 2.0 will change profession.

What would a SIG or CoP do?

A Special Interest Group SIG or electronic Community of Practice (eCoP) could:
  • Set up an email based e-network for sharing news, ideas, tools, relevant literature, asking for help and feedback on project ideas and other documents such as organisational policies.
  • Organise online events such as Webinars and Twitter chats (perhaps in conjunction with #hcsmanz (link http://bitethedust.com.au/bitingthedust/2010/12/04/healthcare-and-social-media-discussion-on-twitter/ )
  • Share a group blog to share ideas.
  • Share contact details and interests so people could make contact with each other for small group professional conversations using e-media and perhaps Skype.
  • Organise face to face events and meet-up perhaps in conjunction with significant Public Health and Health Promotion conferences.
  • Develop position and discussion papers on key issues.

It may be useful to align such a SIG with key professional bodies such as the Public Health Association Australia, Australian Health Promotion Association, and Environmental Health Australia.

I am interested in your ideas. Please leave your comment and vote.

Please share this with your colleagues.

Questions that we need to think about.

Is this a good idea? Please vote on the poll to the right by date end of February.

Is the scope and purpose right or wrong?

How does health promotion in the context of community health or general practice fit in?

What would you change about as a rationale and purpose?

What do you think of the sort of activities that the SIG could undertake?

What do you think it should be called and what about a suggestion for a Twitter hashtag?

How does this relate to the wider worldwide set of #hcsm twitter tags?

Is the time right for a distinct Public Health group? A lot is happening already around Health 2.0 such in the #hcsmanz Titter group.

How doe we spread this to practitioners and the universities?


  1. Hi Malcom,

    I think this is a great idea!! However as someone involved both in the US and UK worlds of public health I'd like to see the establishment of a more global network.

    Courtney McNamara

    Website: www.healthypolicies.com

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/healthypolicies

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Healthy-Policies/326890393369

  2. Thanks for the comment. I had few Twitter, Linkedin comments from international Public Health people who would like to see it global. They see and I see, we have lot in common but we are divided by timezones. I'm not sure we have enough critical mass to start just in Australia & New Zealand. If we started globally as a sub-hashtag of #hcsm then perhaps as growth permitted, we could form regional grouping.

    Would that work for you?

  3. That sounds goods good to me. I do worry a bit about the 'c' in the #hcsm hastag, if this group intends to broaden it's focus outside of healthcare.

  4. Hi Malcolm. It's interesting to read your thoughts about this. I have worked on and off in health promotion for a while and have constantly hit walls in regards to introducing web technology into health promotion practice. It's been difficult to keep the energy up with so many barriers; but I think my experience working with government was particularly difficult and I had to eventually give up on doing anything progressive web-wise. I went to the Australian Health Promotion Association conference in Perth in 2009 and there were some great sessions on web 2.0 related stuff, and I felt really inspired to do something, but there really lacks momentum around this. I have been considering different ways to tackle this problem because you're right, health promotion practice in Australia is really lagging behind. A SIG would be helpful but more than that, I think there needs to be some capacity building within the sector. I would be interested in being involved because even though I currently live in Thailand, I do plan to come back home in the next year or two.

  5. Thanks for comments and interest in being involved. I agree capacity building and problem solving needs to be a key focus. I not sure of your contact detail perhaps you could email me http://about.me/malcolm_lewis

    I feeling we will need to start this global first and then when a critical mass is reached in Australia do more on a national stage.