Highlight HEALTH 2.0 Interview: Phil Baumann

Phil Baumann is an anomaly; he began his professional career as an accountant, a treasury analyst and an enterprise process designer. After years in the enterprise, he decided to make a difference in healthcare and trained as a registered nurse. Following two years in the ICU, Phil transitioned into the pharmaceutical industry via a clinical research organization (CRO). In his free time, Phil Baumann blogs about how technologies influence us, focusing on healthcare applications of social media. He expounds regularly on his blog (PhilBaumann.com) and on Twitter (@PhilBaumann), discussing how healthcare and other related industries should approach emerging media technologies. Indeed, over the past two years, Phil has averaged over 500 tweets per month on Twitter (top five words: rt, twitter, #hcsm, good, social).

Phil Tweet Cloud
Phil Baumann

Last year, Phil Baumann started CareVocate Strategies, offering organizations personalized, professional and focused strategic guidance on how to understand their relationship with social technologies and communities, and how to best interact with their customers.

In July 2010, Phil started Health Is Social, a website where the healthcare and life sciences learn how to integrate digital and social media into their strategies. I had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with Phil Baumann about CareVocate Strategies, Health Is Social and the future of social media in healthcare. Last month, Phil was also recently invited to be on the Board of Advisors for Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

Highlight HEALTH 2.0 Interview: Bertalan Mesko

In 2006, Bertalan Mesko (Berci) started Scienceroll, a blog about genetics and popular medicine. It quickly evolved into a leading source of information following the impact of Web 2.0 on medical education and healthcare. He posts regularly on Twitter (@Berci) about health 2.0, medicine 2.0 and personalized medicine (top five words: rt, ff, medicine, medical, health), and maintains two “microcarnivals” on FriendFeed: Gene Genie and Medicine 2.0.

Berci Tweet Cloud

Over the past four years, Berci has accomplished many things. In 2009, he started a Ph.D. in clinical genomics after graduating with an M.D. from the University of Debrecen in Hungary. From his work at Scienceroll, he has been invited to lecture on medicine in the Web 2.0 era at several clinics and departments at the University of Debrecen, and has presented at several medical conferences around the world.

Berci Mesko

In 2008, Berci launched the first university credit course for medical students that focuses on Web 2.0 and medicine (med20course.wordpress.com). He also founded Webicina.com, the world’s first medical Web 2.0 guidance service. Webicina aims to ease the work of physicians and scientists by recommending useful tools and sites and by presenting them the new world of Web 2.0. Just last week, Webicina launched its 65th medical topic spanning 15 languages on medicine.

I’ve known Berci Mesko since 2006 and we recently had a chance to talk about Scienceroll, Webicina and his professional path in the Web 2.0 era.

Health Highlights – January 6th, 2009

Health Highlights is a biweekly summary of particularly interesting articles from credible sources of health and medical information that we follow & read. For a complete list of recommeded sources, see our links page.

Health Highlights

Following the Tweets of Health

Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows users to send and receive updates or “tweets”, which are short text-based posts. In contrast to a conventional blog, which combines text, images and links to other websites, a micro-blog post is typically restricted to 140 characters. Twitter users can “follow” others by visiting their profile page and clicking the “follow” button. Following someone simply means you will receive their Twitter updates. Interestingly, Twitter is also frequently being used as an instant messaging service, with lengthy real-time exchanges between users.


You might think that very little can be said when you’re restricted to 140 words, but just the opposite is true. You have to be succinct and get straight to the point. This has been a criticism of Twitter since it was launched in October 2006. Call it what you want. Soundbites … media snacking … everyone is busy today and consuming small bits of information is how we’re keep up with the world’s never-ending data stream.

Although there’s been a great deal of speculation in the blogosphere about the death of Twitter, it remains the most widely used micro-blogging service. I’ve mentioned previously that Twitter is a useful communication tool. The social media service allows you to connect with other people who share your interests. I’ve found a great many people interested in health and medicine on Twitter, and have been actively using it since early this year.

Mark Hawker, a health care informatician in the U.K., recently published a list of the Top 30 Health Tweeple or Twitter users. I’m honored to be one of the 30 Twitter users on the list. The top 30 health tweeple include physicians, nurses, medical librarians, medicine and health 2.0 educators and advocates, and healthcare entrepreneurs from around the world. Mark compiled the list of health tweeple you should follow “based on the quality of their contributions and their overall influence in the field.”

However, it was soon realized that many health tweeple were missing from the list. Thus, Mark’s follow-up post, The Forgotten Health Tweeple rounds the list up to 50. Although many of the top 50 health tweeple I already follow, Mark’s list introduced me to others I had not yet discovered.

Even though it’s subjective, I think Mark’s top 50 list accurately identifies people that are actively “tweeting” and discussing health, health 2.0 and medicine 2.0 online. This niche social network within a social network — the health community on Twitter — posts useful and informative content and frequently engages one another, exchanging information and resources. If you use Twitter and you’re interested in health, I highly recommend you follow the top 50 health tweeple.

Interestingly, consumers are also looking for companies on social media websites. Indeed, a recent study found that 93% of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media [1]. This means that brands are being recognized and sought after in a social media environment. I mention this because I maintain two separate Twitter accounts, one for Highlight HEALTH, which provides a way for Twitter users to stay up-to-date with new articles and resources posted on the Highlight HEALTH websites, and a second for personal use (my personal account made the top 30 list). Feel free to follow both.

A word of caution: in my experience, it’s difficult to keep up with the flow of information when you follow too many people. I try very hard to only follow people that are engaging and share my interests. Even when you’re media snacking, you can eat too much!

Here’s a tip: easily keep up with tweets directed at you by locating the RSS link at the bottom of the @Replies page and subscribing to it in your feed reader. You can also convert the feed to email using a service such as Feed My Inbox and you’ll always know when someone sends you a tweet, even if you’re not currently using Twitter.


  1. Cone Finds that Americans Expect Companies to Have a Presence in Social Media. Cone Inc. press release. 2008 Sep 25.

FreeMD – Ask the Virtual Doctor

DSHI Systems is a physician-led medical technology company and a supplier of triage decision-support software solutions. Last week, the company announced the release of freeMD.com, an electronic doctor that performs an interview, analyzes symptoms and provides expert advice — all for free [1]. The website contains an expert system that emulates the triage function doctors perform when assessing the potential severity of a group of symptoms. FreeMD is able to analyze more than 3,000 symptoms and injuries in infants, children and adults.

freemdFreeMD.com combines text and a video doctor to ask questions about your symptoms and past medical history, and then generates a record in the form of a personal web page. The personal web page contains important information about your condition, your answers to the interview questions, and links to specific health information. Consumers can print out a copy or email the record to their doctor for review. It’s as easy as clicking “E-Mail” or “Print” in the toolbar at the top right of the page.

According to Dr. Stephen Schueler, M.D., CEO of DSHI Systems [1]:

Consumers are on their own when making the decision to see a doctor. Do they go to the emergency room, urgent care center, doctor’s office, or the nurse retail clinic? How does the average person know what to do? We have created a life-like experience that provides personalized recommendations.

FreeMD provides answers to important questions, such as: what might be causing my symptoms; do I need to see a doctor; how do I care for myself; where should I go for care? The website enables consumer-driven healthcare by empowering consumers and enabling them to avoid dangerous delays in care. The system also suggests where to go for care, reducing dependance on the emergency room.

FreeMD Breakthrough Technology

  • Uses video to conduct the interview (also uses text and photos)
  • Analyzes thousands of symptoms and injuries
  • Generates a personal web page that contains care instructions and a detailed health record

FreeMD Evidence-Based Medicine

  • 100% physician-written and maintained
  • Proven accuracy through millions of interactions
  • Reviewed by doctors and nurses for more than 10 years

For the last eight years, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has used DSHI Systems’ Veterans Health Gateway, a sophisticated software system used by nurses to provide health advice via the telephone [2]. A similar system, 24/7 WebMed, has been used by University of Central Florida (UCF) students since 2004 to look up information on specific illnesses and allow the site to guide them through a series of questions about symptoms to determine the illness [3]. UCF now uses FreeMD, which replaces the older 24/7 WebMed system.

According to the website, freeMD doesn’t make a diagnosis, but instead determines your risk for one or more condition(s) that could explain your symptoms. Nevertheless, I tried freeMD a couple of times tonight while writing this article and was impressed with its recommendations. Give it a try and let me know your thoughts.


  1. DSHI Systems Debuts FreeMD the Web’s First Virtual Doctor. DSHI Systems Press Release. 2008 Apr 21.
  2. Veterans Health Gateway (VHG). Document Storage Systems, Inc. Services & Solutions. Accessed 2008 Apr 30.
  3. UCF Students Can Access Health Information, Advice on 24/7 WebMed Site. University of Central Florida News & Information. 2004 Nov 21.