Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Hematology/Oncology Grand Rounds at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center 2/4/14

I was honored to be asked by ASCO President Dr. Cliff Hudis (@cliffordhudis on Twitter) to give Grand Rounds at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York on the topic of social media, on Tuesday Feb 4 at 8:00 am EST. The title of my talk is "Connectivity, Collaboration, and Disruption: Social Media and the Oncologist." As I did with the last few talks I've given, I created a special hashtag "#msk_hcsm14" which I will use to create a live Twitter stream that I hope more than a few people will follow and respond to during the actual presentation. Also, using Tweetdeck, I pre-scheduled a series of tweets with the hashtag to be posted during the presentation, containing many of my references and few additional links to extend the talk. While I don't really think anyone will be fooled into thinking that I am live-tweeting in the middle of my presentation - not that I and others haven't thought about it - I find this a fun and educational technique to try to jumpstart online dialogue. And after the session is over, I will create a Storify of the collected tweets to share with the audience.

I know a few MSKCC doctors on Twitter, but I don't know how active they might be during the presentation. I don't think the level of interactivity you see at large meetings like #ASCO13 or #MedX is very common at smaller sessions like this, but there is always a first time!

So if anyone is reading this, feel free to join in the online Twitter conversation starting about 7:45 am on Tuesday 2/4/14. Be sure to save this hashtag and spread the word. Thanks.


Addendum 2/6/14:

I have posted my slides for my talk to SlideShare.

The Storify for the hashtag #msk_hcsm14 is here.

Spread the word and keep the convo going!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The importance of philanthropy for funding cancer research in 2014+

I probably received no fewer than 25 emails  last week asking me to consider donating to a variety of charitable organizations before the stroke of midnight 12/31/13. “There’s still time for that end-of-the-year deduction.” **sigh** Every one of them, no doubt, is worthy, and most were from organizations I had some contact with in the past, either as a member, an alumnus, a prior donor, or some other connection. (The most amusing to me are the requests for donations from the colleges where my kids are currently students, frequently a request that comes by phone. I tell the earnest young men and women who are calling to “verify my address” that I already make regular donations, called tuition payments.)

It’s easy to tune out requests that come in waves at the end of the year, or if you are like me, you may have already made some decisions about where you might be willing to give. But did you know one of the worthiest causes you can donate to is cancer research, specifically to the hospitals and medical centers where you or your loved ones may already be receiving their care? Many people are surprised to find out that much research is funded not only by the Federal government and the pharmaceutical industry, but by donations large and small from grateful patients and family members. While most have heard that Federal dollars for biomedical research have have been drying up in recent years, you should realize how bleak the situation truly is. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has pointed out that the research budget from the National Institutes of Health is almost 25% lower today than 10 years ago when adjusted for inflation. This infographic explains the issue pretty well.

What can you do? I would of course support the idea that as citizens we should work through our elected representatives to send them the message that we can ill afford to continue to mortgage our future in this way, although realistically few of us may be motivated to do that. But you can also make a difference at the local level by donating directly to centers that are doing research and benefiting people in your own community. You don’t have to have millions or thousands or even hundreds. You might be surprised at how welcome and deeply appreciated even a seemingly modest donation to a local doctor or research program would be. Those of us who work in an academic medical center like Johns Hopkins are thrilled when we hear about people who want to help our work by supporting a small (or large) part of it financially. And here’s another thought - instead of remembering your oncologist or his/her office with a Christmas gift or donation of fruit or candy, consider making a donation to the research program that he or she is a part of. While I am always flattered and grateful when a patient buys me a tie or other thoughtful personal item, an even better gift is research support. It may not sound as personal or glamorous, but it is something that will long be remembered.

When I moved from private practice in Sacramento to Johns Hopkins in 2009, quite of few of my California patients wrote me moving personal notes, every one of which I kept. Others bought me small gifts or similar items, again things that I really appreciated and still have. But the one gift I will never forget was from the couple (the husband was one of my patients, and I took care of one of his wife’s family members as well) that donated money in my honor to Johns Hopkins, before I even started working here.  

So let make a very direct “pitch," and I'll be clear I am speaking as an individual,  not as a faculty member of Johns Hopkins University (my employer) or as Editor-in-Chief of ASCO’s Cancer.Net (where I volunteer). I would ask you to consider giving to support research by donating to two worthy causes - the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and ASCO’s Conquer Cancer Foundation, which in addition to supporting Cancer.Net’s patient education and advocacy efforts, has long supported the careers of gifted physician-scientists by funding their research.

You can learn about opportunities to donate to the Kimmel Cancer Center here (consider designating that your gift be used for breast cancer research) or to the Conquer Cancer Foundation here. Thank you so much for your consideration.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Three Words for 2014

It’s fashionable for anyone with a blog to post their New Years’ resolutions, but I have never been very original or consistent. (Looks like my last attempt was in 2011 - that's lame.) So instead, I will follow the lead of Chris Brogan and Bryan Vartabedian and choose three words that I hope will be my guideposts for 2014:

Focus. I will try to be less distractible and multi-task less this year. I will try to start every week by creating a short, realistic list of what I want to accomplish. Certain things will always pull me away from tasks, with patient care being the most important. But in my other jobs - EHR design/implementation at Hopkins, Cancer.Net editorship, JOP podcasts, social media research and evangelism - I will focus more on the task at hand, even if it’s only 20 minutes of uninterrupted thinking. And speaking of 20 minutes, I will try to spend 20 minutes every single day in the month of January writing (here's the source of that one). Not sure if that means that my blog will be any more successful, but a 20 minute goal is manageable.

Innovate. I’ve never thought of myself as visionary or creative, since I’m more the slow, steady, and thorough type, but I will try to devote energy and personal resources to creating innovative ideas for the things that are important to me, including patient-centered care, consumer-health informatics and patient-reported outcomes, and the intersection of digital health and cancer care. I would like to look back at the end of 2014 and say these are the 5, 10, 20, whatever truly original ideas I came up with and what I did with them.

Recharge. I will try to spend a fixed amount of time every week unplugging from what I have to do and do what I want to do (notice I didn’t specify the amount of time - I’m still trying to figure that out). I will recharge by exercise, listening to music, and reading for pure pleasure.

Wish me luck…

Sunday, December 15, 2013

San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium 2013

This week I was happy to be able to attend my first-ever San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, which is probably the largest and most successful scientific conference devoted exclusively to breast cancer research and treatment. The meeting was exciting, intellectually stimulating, and full of great insights into both the basic and translational aspects of the disease and practical management. While I won't give in to hyperbole and say that there were "practice-changing" findings around every corner (a phrase I did hear a few times while there), a number of important research studies were discussed that I know will influence the care I give to breast cancer patients as soon as I return to my practice tomorrow.

As expected, the backchannel of the Twitter stream (using the #SABCS13 hashtag) was very active, despite some annoying WiFi woes in the convention center, with over 5700 tweets and 16+ million impressions. Thanks to the folks at, full analytics and a transcript of the tweets can be downloaded here. If you weren't following along live during the meeting, reading the Twitter stream can provide some interesting glimpses into the science that was presented and immediate reactions and commentary.

There was plenty of media coverage from mainstream news sources, as well as specialty media like MedPageToday and the ASCO Post. Don't miss the press releases from the Symposium web site or these helpful audio interviews with some of the speakers.

And finally, I am grateful to Dr. Deanna Attai, breast surgeon and #BCSM Tweetchat co-moderator, for asking Dr. Julie Gralow and me to write blog posts for the BCSM Community site about some of the research findings presented. Rather than wasting electrons by duplicating my post here, I am linking to it here on the BCSM Community blog page. Dr. Gralow's post can be found here. Feel free to comment below on my post or anything else you wanted to share about the Symposium and findings.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My 12/4/13 talk at Johns Hopkins - "Social Media for Professional Education and Patient Engagement"

Today I was honored to be able to give a talk at Johns Hopkins on the topic of healthcare-related social media. This was a joint seminar of the Cancer Outcomes and Health Services Research Interest Group and the Johns Hopkins Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research. I set up a Twitter feed in advance using the hashtag #cohsrig13 and prescheduled a series of tweets to go out with links to references for some of my slides. The audience was engaged and enthusiastic, and several of them live-tweeted my talk - which I strongly encouraged of course.

I created a Storify with all of the tweets from today associated with the #cohsrig13 hashtag here

I've prescheduled tweets when I've given talks before, and I think it's a potentially effective way to share references realtime and encourage interaction. I've never done a Storify before this but it's incredibly simple and seems to be useful for archiving this type of event. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Engage With Grace 2013

Last year for Thanksgiving, I joined many other bloggers in sharing Engage With Grace, which encourages families as they join together for Thanksgiving to consider having the all-important conversation about their wishes for advanced care and end-of-life care. I'm trying to do my part for 2013 as well. A tougher, but more important, conversation can't be had. Please take a moment to read about Engage With Grace and the One Slide Project, and consider having this conversation with your family as you finish your Thanksgiving feast. 

Engage With Grace

Answer and share the 5 questions here.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Podcast: Practical Guidance in the Use of Social Media in Oncology

This week we posted a podcast for ASCO's Journal of Oncology Practice on the topic of social media in oncology practice. This was based on an article that was published September 2012 in JOP, co-authored by several members of the Integrated Media and Technology Committee from ASCO. I currently chair that committee and was honored to be included as an author. Three of the article's contributors joined me for a stimulating 45-minute conversation about the power (and perils) of using social media from the viewpoint of an oncology professional, incorporating as well how a professional society like ASCO employs these tools. My guests were Dr. Don Dizon (@drdonsdizon), a medical oncologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center specializing in women's cancers and female sexual health, Dr. Mike Thompson (@mtmdphd), a medical oncologist in community practice in Wisconsin with an interest in hematologic malignancies and clinical trials, and Claire Johnston, Social Media Manager for ASCO.

You can listen to the podcast here on the JOP website, or this link will bring you to the iTunes store (you can also just search "Journal of Oncology Practice" on iTunes and find it that way). Also, please take a moment to read the full JOP article.

The conversation was wide ranging and covered many important points, including:

  • Why social media has become such an important form of communication in health care these days and the different ways physicians might use social media (patient care, health messaging for a lay audience, and professional networking/knowledge-sharing)
  • What are the special considerations for social media in the field of oncology in particular, compared with other medical specialties
  • What issues are raised when patients try to engage with their physicians using social media
  • What basic themes and principles we learned by examining the social media policies from about 35 other organizations ranging from the AMA to different hospitals and medical centers
  • What role social media plays as a member benefit and a communication/engagement tool for a professional society like ASCO
  • What special precautions must be kept in mind if you are using social media to spread the word about a clinical trial and improve recruitment
Hope you take the time to download the podcast and listen to it at the gym or driving to work! Your feedback is always welcome, either here or on the iTunes page.