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Bending HIPAA Toward Spontaneity—Just for the Health of It

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What if our propensity for over-sharing helped us get healthy?

tumblr_mimklpUnHE1qbcporo1_1280-02252013Writing for Fast Company, Jennifer Miller reported on a study that showed the amazing stickiness of Facebook status feeds over other literature. Miller queued up the notion as “mind-ready content,” which is a pithy way of getting at the heart of the study. It seems the immediacy and poor spelling and bad grammar we expect in status updates all have a way of indicating spontaneity. And one of the study experiments suggested:

…the remarkable memory for microblogs is also not due to their completeness or simply their topic, but may be a more general phenomenon of their being the largely spontaneous and natural emanations of the human mind. (Major memory for microblogs abstract: Mickes L, Darby RS, Hwe V, et al.)

We’ve been witnessing the rise of social media to help people lose weight, get exercise, eat right, among a sea of many other activities. It is the telling and the reading—all on a fairly spontaneous level—that has great persuasive powers. Not to belabor this point, but it is not just reading about others’ success that can motivate behavior change. It is when we ourselves record our progress (and lack thereof) (in public and not) that also motivates change. If you’ve ever recorded the calories you eat in a day or the money you spent in a day, you know how awareness jumps to high alert.

Can these facts about human motivation and memory be harnessed by physicians? Should healthcare have a social component…generally? Privacy on the web—always a moving target—would seem to have hit the immovable object of what the US considers protected health information: those rules the medical community follows to ensure medical records stay private. But encouraging patients to share what they are comfortable sharing, is there a possible positive health outcome in that? Maybe. Maybe not. Who is itching to read about their friend’s infection (sorry: bad word choice)? I have no desire to read colonoscopy stories. But on the other side, will we start to see spontaneous-ish declarations from our friend the corporate doctor/robot that encourage us toward healthful habits—based on our Facebook feeds?

One wonders.

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Image credit: Ben Giles via 2headedsnake

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Written by kirkistan

February 25, 2013 at 10:56 am

One Response

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  1. […] Is Your Message Mind-Ready? […]


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