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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thoughts on Tagging

On Thursday night I had the pleasure of attending Health 2.0 Stat.  It is the local Health 2.0 meeting hosted by Mike Tock and Aquilent in the upper room at the Barking Dog in Bethesda.  It is always great fun, and I was doubly happy to be there this time because I was speaking again. 

I followed several great presentations.   And they were filled with excellent explanations of data and technology and mobile applications.  Then I got up and began to speak about tagging.
What does tagging mean to you?  To my five year old it is a game that is played on the playground.  To artists it can be the graffiti on the street.  If you tweet, it is a hash tag.  Or perhaps you are into tech and then we are talking metadata and QR codes.  But it is all about the tag.

Humans have been tagging for a really long time.  You can go to the caves of South America, and see tags.  You can look inside an ancient pyramid, into the smallest space that no one is ever supposed to see, and there will be tags.  Or you can go to the bricks of Babylon and will find them there.  The tag that helps all of humanity find you, and tells eternity you lived and breathed.

I started tagging on a wall when I was six.  I used chalk and sandstone.  Each day my tag washed away and I began anew. Sometimes the writing was a cry for help, a plead for change, or simply the statement:

“I was here.”

I recently spoke in Philadelphia at an ONC event, and as I left the hotel I came upon this door covered with tags.  It reminded me of Health 2.0.  Have you ever been to the health 2.0 site?  It looks very similar.  Logos, Sponsors and coming events cover the page.  How Health 2.0 has grown over the past few years reminded me of a quote from Shepard Fairey talking about street art:  “The more stickers that are out there the more important it seems.  The more important it seems the more people want to know what it is.  The more they ask they ask each other.  It gains real power from perceived power.”

I wondered how can an outsider artist, or an enterprising start-up, or a social media savvy doctor, send a message to us all? Well it is really simple: they can write it on a wall.

There are a couple of definitions of Health 2.0 one is from Matthew Holt aka @boltyboy: “Health 2.0 is just a term that groups together the healthcare use of Web 2.0, which is in itself just a term for easy (& cheap!) To create easy to use software that encompasses search, wikis, blogs, video, online communities, mash-ups…

Another comes from my good friend Dr. Ted Eytan: “Health 2.0 is participatory healthcare.  Enabled by information, software, and community that we collect or create, we the patients can be effective partners in our own healthcare, and we the people can participate in reshaping the health system itself.”  ~ Ted Eytan, MD @tedeytan

When I see the picture by street artist Banksy of the girl holding balloons, I think of our current care model.  You see this little girl in her dress floating so high, with only balloons to support her and you know they are going to pop and she will fall.

But we can create a patient, family community care model combined with the traditional chronic care model and support that by the tools and technologies of Health 2.0, empowered patients and a proactive care team.  That is how we get the balloons, the parachute and the net beneath.  That is how we save lives and improve quality.

I don’t know if you realize that at the same time Health 2.0 was becoming a movement so was street art.  It grew from a world of tagging and spray graffiti to and all encompassing form that welcomed all equally: knit-bombing and wheat paste, murals and stickers.  It welcomed a widow who created a painting called 73 cents.  That is I on Wooster Collective page back in 2009.  “Street art is the first global art movement to be fueled by the Web,” Sara and Marc Schiller of the Wooster Collective.  I am part of two movements fueled by the web: Health 2.0 and Street Art.

Imagine what can happen when a health data movement unites with a patient street art movement?  We can create a walking wall of change.

And you can be part of that.  On September 25th 2011 will be a special day at Health 2.0 in San Francisco. It will be Patients 2.0 and the patient will be front and center. There will be a second gathering of The Walking Gallery throughout the conference from the 25th through the 27th.  In addition, I will be working on a large mural piece where street art meets Health 2.0.  In that painting the old school will meet the new and the tools of technology will unite all. 

Each attendee will be invited to create a personal graffiti tag, because in the end, this story is about …you.

Register for The Walking Gallery II/ Patients 2.0 in San Francisco, CA  on Eventbrite

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this explanation of Health 2.0. I plan to attend specifically for the patient advocate components. Coincidentally, FDA/CDRH is conducting a Town Hall meeting in San Francisco on 9/22/11. I have a Sign-On petition ( ) that I encourage all to sign: it will encourage the FDA to follow the IOM (Institute of Medicine) 7/29/11 report stating that the patient protections for implanted medical devices should be elevated. The 1976 charter of the FDA is antiquated and did not acknowledge patients and consumers as stakeholders.