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Aug
3
2006

Peter Kohler recently chatted with reporter Kayley Mendenhall about this blog for an article in The Bulletin. He commented that, unlike most blogs, we all seem a bit formal. What do you think is the best way to encourage participation? How can we make this blog more welcoming for you to post your ideas for change in the healthcare system?

Nicole
Blog technical adviser

Blog takes on state health care reform
By Kayley Mendenhall / The Bulletin
Published: July 16. 2006 6:00AM PST

Dr. Peter Kohler admits that he is new to the world of blogging.

But as president of Oregon Health & Science University, Kohler said the
online communication format could be a place to collect ideas and thoughts
on health care reform from people throughout the state.

"I think right now health care issues are becoming a very critical part,
hopefully, of the national dialogue and the state as well," Kohler said. "I
thought we ought to be involved in collecting opinions."

OHSU launched its health care reform blog in late April, said spokeswoman
Kathleen McFall, but the site has just started to pick up speed in recent
weeks.

So far, it includes copies of lectures given by OHSU faculty members on
topics like holes in the health care safety net and the dysfunction of the
overall health care system. It also has discussions from health care
advocacy groups on a national report about the state of emergency rooms and
thoughts on a grass-roots movement to enact legislative health care changes.

Most of the people contributing so far are already interested in health care
policy issues, Kohler said, explaining he'd like a broader range of users to
access the site.

"It seems a little formal," Kohler said of the initial blogging content. "A
lot of what we have posted has been taken from talks people have given. I
think most blogging is a little more spontaneous and the posts tend to be a
little more succinct."

He wants people to feel comfortable posting their thoughts, regardless of
their experience in the health care industry. The blog is free and open to
all people interested in discussing the industry problems and possible
solutions. It does not offer medical advice or interactive conversations
with physicians.

Maribeth Healey of the advocacy group Oregonians for Health Security said
her organization has contributed to the blog.

"I do love the opportunity," Healey said. "The more discussion there is
about health care reform, it is only going to help us achieve reform in the
2007 legislative session."

Healey said there are several efforts statewide focused on health care
reform now, including a group created by former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber
that has its own blog at www.archimedesmovement.org. Dan Peddycord, director
of the Deschutes County Health Department, said a local coalition is also
talking about health care reform in Central Oregon.

"It's critically important that in every form and format possible that we
have this conversation," Peddycord said. "We need employers to be heavily
invested in the conversation. We need local communities, and the media, to
be all over the conversation."

The OHSU blog, Healey said, provides yet another avenue for those
discussions.

"The time for reform really is now. It's exciting that there are all these
different ways for people to engage," Healey said. "If you are upset that
you can't get health care, this is your opportunity to weigh in on this
debate."

She hopes that by participating in the blog, people will become more aware
of opportunities to lobby their elected representatives about potential
legislative changes and of ballot measures focused on improving health care
access.

Dr. Susan Allan, director of the Oregon Department of Public Health, said
while health system reform is an important conversation, she would like to
see people also focus on building healthy communities through prevention
efforts.

"I think it's about time that people in every community in this country woke
up to the fact that they are spending far too much money for health care and
getting far too little for it," Allan said. "(The blog) may get people into
the conversation who don't participate in other ways."

That is exactly what Kohler said he hopes the site will accomplish.

"We want everybody to certainly know they are welcome to participate,"
Kohler said. "I would rather have (the content) be something that heads
toward a solution, but we are going to keep it open."

McFall said some of the site's content will be edited, but only if the
postings include inappropriate language, personal attacks or points that are
completely off the subject of health care. In those cases, she said, the
contributor will have a chance to review the edits and approve them before
they are posted.

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Join the dialogue here

Aug 3, 2006 2:37:23 PM
John Norris says

Nothing's easier than posting my opinions on my own blog. Make posting on this site, hard, formal, informal, whatever...but give us the tools to have a conversation.

With its sponsorship and authors, this site can draw knowledgeable, caring, people who together can have important discussions and find some solutions.

Some suggestons that would help make conversation easier:

Follow up by the authors in the comment section. For many of us, it is a rare opportunity to express ourselves to these experts. I'd think many would take advantage of that. Having the authors get involved in the comments would show that the comments are not just amongst the audience. Even if the author just posts a brief note 3 days later acknowledging folks for their comments.

Email or RSS notification concerning comments. I'd like to know if a comment had been added to an article, or at least an article I had commented on.

More granularity for the categories. We've had a couple of articles on the ER. It seems to be a category in its own right. Perhaps there could be a community driven tagging feature. To have in depth discussions on a topic, it will be necessary to easily tie a variety of articles together.

Solicit comments. Have articles that pose a question, that entice or incite people to comment. Even an open topic article such as "Discuss Your ER Experience Here" with a promise to have an expert follow up on the comments in a week.

More articles. Keep the site/community active with more posts. These could be quick links to current articles on Oregon healthcare, synopsis of past articles & comments, highlight a past comment for folks that may have missed it. -Anything that people are interested in and would like to discuss. These articles may need to be differentiated from the more "robust" posts.

Lighter articles. This sight's topics often require deep thinking about complex subjects. The articles are well thought out, and often quite approachable. However, occasional light posts might widen the audience, allow one to recapture one's energy, and encourage thinking outside the box.

Trackback feature. It might encourage other blogs to discuss the articles here and widen the community.

Do comments allow for basic html? Let folks know in the "Join the Dialogue Here" page if they can put a link/blockquote/list/etc... in the comments section.

On the front page:

Current Discussions: Links to the last 5 most recent comments.

Biggest Discussions: Links to the 5 articles with the most comments.

Site Discussion: A link to this article to solicit more ideas on how to make the site better.

Hope that helps!

I've been enjoying the site and am looking forward to it in the future.

Thanks for asking for suggestions.


John

Aug 4, 2006 9:16:01 AM
Nicole says

Great suggestions John! You've definitely given me something to think/work on. Everyone keep the comments coming. Tell me how you use the site.

Aug 13, 2006 8:54:09 AM
Jim Holman says

A few comments.

1) If you want to know a commentor's email address, that's fine, but it should not be displayed on the web page. Doing that will just generate email spam for the person.

2) The articles posted here are very interesting, and as far as I can tell, written by professionals in the field. The problem is that there aren't many of them. Part of the fun of a blog is being able to go there every few days and reading something new. The last reform-related article posted here was from July 27, 18 days ago. Infrequency of posting can be fatal to a blog, since people stop checking in and they forget about it.

3) To generate more content, consider getting material from other web sites, with the permission of the author. For example, check out Chris Rangel's site at http://www.rangelmd.com/ He's a physician in Texas, and for being just one guy, his site is very active. Check out his recent posting "A Tale of Two Systems." Farther down the page, check out his "Grand Rounds" contest for the best healthcare reform ideas. Check out the article "The Maze - The first of a series on the bizarre alternate universe of America’s current health care 'system' as experienced daily by a practicing physician." (http://politicscentral.com/2006/07/15/
the_maze_part_1_medical_coding.php) In other words, there's a lot of good stuff out there, so there's no reason not to have a steady supply of interesting material.

4) I worked at OHSU for 21 years, so I know a little about the place. They are not strangers to controversy, but they don't exactly seek it out either. But part of the value of a blog is in presenting material that has some "bite" to it, that is a little controversial, that is not the kind of thing that you'll read in Healthcare Management Quarterly.

For example, a big current issue is the extent to which pharmacists can refuse to fill certain prescriptions based on "conscience." Physician-assisted suicide is a big issue for many. Stem cell research/frozen embryos is a huge issue. And so on. At OHSU you have the Center for Ethics. You train pharmacy residents. You have an infertility program. Perhaps some of these people have opinions about these things. I'm not saying that you should have a steady stream of controversy, but some of these issues would generate interest in the site.

Aug 14, 2006 2:23:54 PM
Kathleen says

Jim: thanks for your great insights. We will try to get newer material up on a more regular basis. Also, we are looking into that issue about displaying e-mails.

Kathleen

Aug 15, 2006 11:10:49 AM
DeeAnna says

A couple of suggestions:

-One, more press! If more people know about the blog, more people will read it and respond.

-Ask specific questions at the end of each post. The blog should facilitate discussion in much the same way that a facilitator at a conference would engage the audience. What questions does the writer of the post want answered? What specific issues should people be thinking about? Laying out the facts are important, but giving people direct questions to think about can help stimulate discussion.

Aug 15, 2006 2:41:18 PM
Nicole says

Good suggestions DeeAnna. I definitely think each post implies a question of "Do you agree or disagree?", but maybe a more explicit question would make a difference. It seems to have helped with this post.

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