Social Media

Building Community and Social Networking: Interview with Quinte Pediatrics

7 Mins read

This year Ashley Weinhandl, Marketing Coordinator with the Ontario Hospital Association invited me to co-host a presentation on social media at HealthAchieve.

This year Ashley Weinhandl, Marketing Coordinator with the Ontario Hospital Association invited me to co-host a presentation on social media at HealthAchieve. It may come as a surprise to you, but I don’t actually like talking about social media. My passion is community and peer sharing. In the #hcsmca community we have great examples of people building community and using their online social networks for health. With this in mind, Ashley and I decided to show not tell. À la breakfast television, we invited Dr. Paul Dempsey and Sara Hamil from Quinte Pediatrics to share their story.

Here is the  an edited version of the transcript (which we didn’t adhere to entirely :). Please scroll down to view the slideshow.

[Slide 1: Introductions]
[Slide 2: Your hosts]
Good afternoon. I’m Colleen Young founder of Health Care Social Media Canada or better known as #hcsmca. Welcome to Isabella’s Café. This is my co-host Ashley Weinhandl, Marketing Coordinator with the Ontario Hospital Association.
So Ashley what social media tools does OHA use?

Thanks Colleen for the introduction!

[Slide 3: What is social media?]
There are many social media tools out there that you can use.

At OHA we chose to use Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter to connect and continue to provide transparency to hospitals, other health care organizations and the general public. We share the latest health care news and information and, more importantly, gather feedback from members, patients and the entire healthcare community.
Lastly, our CEO, Tom Closson, also blogs regularly from The Tom Closson Blog. One or two times each month, Tom takes to his blog to comment on current health care news and events, and provides insight into innovative ideas that can improve the accessibility, quality, sustainability, and efficiency of the healthcare system. This is another great way for Tom to stay connected with our members and the health care community.

[Slide 4: @berci, Medical doctor, founder of]
There are specific benefits to every social media channel we use…

[Slide 5: @jodyms, Writer, Blogger, Cancer Advocate]
But of all the social media tools, we have found that Twitter is the most effective for sharing, generating awareness and conversing with others. Twitter is a stream of live conversations happening 24/7 and really allows people to connect.

In fact Ashley, that’s how we met … on Twitter during an OHA event that you were tweeting from. I saw the tweets and participated in the event remotely.

You know what I’d really like to hit home in this brief session today? I’d like to shift people’s focus from social media to social networking. Social media tools may be new, but social networking surely is not. We’ve always depended on our social networks for information, collaboration and decision-making in health.

[Slide 6: @Zimbarama, PhD Candidate, University of Otago]
Social media merely leverages this innate human need and opens the door to a much broader pool of people and connections. Now we can tap into the global community and to people we would otherwise not have had access to.

[Slide 7: People will continue to learn…]
People are learning and sharing about health online.

I agree Colleen. However, before launching into social media, organizations and individuals should consider who they want to talk with and why.

[Slide 8: Before you start]
Yes, I’d like to underline the phrasing you used: “talk with” not “talk to”.

[Slide 9: @shellylibrarian, Librarian]
As we’ve been talking, you’ve seen quotes from members of the global #hcsm community about the different ways use social media. For me, Meredith Gould nicely sums up what the others have been saying.

[Slide 10: @MeredithGould, Sociologist, Educator, Author]
It’s all about community. Who is your community? Who do you want to connect with?

And patients Colleen. What about patients?

People use their social networks, both on and offline, to get information and support before and after consulting their doctors. Social media in healthcare has really allowed patients easy and immediate access to information and support, and I think healthcare providers should be there too. In my opinion no one is doing this better than the team at Quinte Pediatrics. To talk more about how Quinte Pediatrics is using social media to inform, support and build community for their patients and their families, I’d like to invite Dr. Paul Dempsey up on stage.

[Slide 11: Meet Dr. Paul Demspey]
Dr. Dempsey is a pediatrician and the Medical Director of Quinte Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in Belleville Ontario. He’s also President of Quinte Healthcare Professional Staff Association and Chief of Pediatrics. Dr. Dempsey, welcome to HealthAchieve.

Dr. Dempsey:
Thank you.

Dr. Dempsey, you and your team at Quinte Pediatrics have really harnessed the potential of social media. Who did you want to connect with and why?

Dr. Dempsey:
First and foremost, we wanted to connect with the patient families that use our services. The primary purpose of our social media efforts has been to remove the walls of Quinte Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, extending the patient experience beyond our physical building and taking it online.

[Slide 12: @QuintePediatric, Quinte Pediatrics and Adolesent Medicine: We’re taking down the walls…]

Tools like Twitter and Facebook have allowed us to vet and share current and reliable resources to parents, and give them a space where they can mingle, share their experiences and connect with one another. We also wanted to use these tools as a means of staying connected with our greater community as well.

Another group we knew that we wanted to reach included other healthcare practitioners, practices and those with an interest in pediatric medicine. Social media tools hold so much potential for idea sharing and collaboration. This increased ability for physicians to connect more quickly and directly is, in my mind, invaluable.

How did you get started? What social media tools do you use?

Dr. Dempsey:
Before introducing Quinte Pediatrics officially to the world of social media, I explored Twitter via my own personal account (@DrPaulDempsey). Quinte Pediatrics made its debut with both a Twitter account (@QuintePediatric) and a Facebook page ( These days we also run a blog ( and have our venue up on FourSquare. In the very near future we’ll be launching a new website featuring a social hub, be sharing videos on YouTube and even introducing a wiki to our social media repertoire.

[Slide 13: Patient families have really embraced our social…]

Wow. You’ve mobilized quite a lot of social media. Tell us about your experience.

Dr. Dempsey:
So far the response has been extremely encouraging. Patient families have really embraced our social presence and appreciate the way it humanizes their children’s healthcare experiences and simplifies how they can access relevant information. They like the way that we share healthcare information that comes from our experience, in addition to reliable standardized information online, and they seem to really appreciate engagement that makes them feel like part of the QP family like our “What and Where” game on Facebook, for example.

[Slide 14: @SaraHamil, Director of Social Media and Communications at Quinte Pediatrics]

What’s the “What and Where” game?

Dr. Dempsey:
On non-acute care clinic days, Sara, our director of social media and communications, posts a close-up picture of something in the office on our Facebook page. Then we invite our followers to guess what it is and where to find it in the office. It’s a simple game Sara started a while back. Besides being fun, it helps make our patients and families more comfortable around the practice. It’s hard to stump them though.

Have their been any surprises or unexpected benefits as you’ve increased your use of social media tools?

Dr. Dempsey:
I’ve always considered us to be very rooted within our community and the profile that our social media presence provides has helped to strengthen those ties.

[Slide 15: We’re very rooted in our local community…]

As far as unexpected benefits go, the amount of networking and collaboration we’ve been able to do via social media has been a very welcome bonus. Because of social media, we have direct access to doctors, a full team (i.e. nurses, patients, etc.) and others that bring a technical expertise in the practice of medicine. Groups such as #HCSMCA are great examples of how valuable online idea sharing can be.

Thanks for mentioning #hcsmca. I’m always glad to see you and Sara on the chats. Let’s talk more about #hcsmca at the end.
Let’s move on to a question that is so often asked. You’re a busy man. How do you integrate social media into your day, your workflow?

Dr. Dempsey:
Our Quinte Pediatrics online presence is managed by our director of social media and communications, Sara Hamil. Her role is to engage with our audiences and create content across our various platforms, which ensures that we’re always available and have new information to share. Personally, I make sure to take time throughout my day to check in, engage and share as much as I can, for example when I print out a patient hand-out, I also share a link as a “topic of the day” for my followers. Mobile tools have come in very handy in that respect.

[Slide 16: The place of social media in health care…]

What one piece of advice would you give to your colleagues who are not yet using social media?

Dr. Dempsey:
Begin by posting factual information (like hours of operation for example) and once you become familiar with that you’ll find that you become more comfortable in using it more broadly for other purposes. The place of social media in health care is becoming more and more significant in the way we build our relationships with not only our patients but with each other as well.

[Slide 17: @chibbie, Information Consultant, Researcher, Writer; Scotland]

You’re quite right Paul. And like my Twitter friend Johanna in Scotland says, “You can’t beat just joining in. Find conversations and people that inspire.”

[Slide 18: hcsmca]


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