My journey with #HealthXPh

I would like to thank people who attended the recently concluded Philippine Healthcare and Social Media Summit 2017 (#HCMSPh2017) held in Cebu last 25 April.
The summit, now on in its third year, is organized by #HealthXPh, a community of Filipino doctors with a common passion to promote social media as a means for health awareness and patient empowerment. 

But aside from the summits, actually, the main activity of this community is the weekly tweetchat held every Saturday night, where we discuss various issues and their impact on health and clinical practice. Unique with this chat is a refreshing friendly environment, a respite from the hierarchy characteristic of the medical profession. After all, more ideas spring out when people are open to express themselves freely.

Starting as an endeavor shared by a group of friends, #HealthXPh was started by endocrinologist Dr. Iris Isip-Tan, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Remo Aguilar, medical educator Dr. Buboy Tapia, and occupational physician and patient advocate Dr. Gia Sison. Eventually, obstetrician-gynecologist and community maternal health advocate Dr. Helen Madamba joined the fold. At every step of the way, #HealthXPh was supported with fatherly care and support by trauma surgeon and former undersecretary of health Dr. Ted Herbosa. 

Then late last year, through my inclusion in its regular rotation of tweetchat moderators, I became part of the group, and became its bunso, its youngest member.

Until now I’m awed at how I managed to be part of such a formidable cast of clinicians and advocates. How did it happen? I don’t know precisely. What I do know is that I have been participating in the tweetchats since the group’s infancy, and I just found myself gravitating towards their mission and the fun-loving personality that they share as a group. 

For me, participating in the tweetchat populated by global and national movers and influencers required a lot of chutzpah. But after receiving news about the first tweetchat in late 2013, I felt I just had to join the conversation. Having just ended my stint in the Doctors to the Barrios program, I developed a desire to share my experiences and learn from others as well. #HealthXPh was the venue I was looking for.

In the interim, I have been on and off with my participation in the group, having been busy with other matters. But I knew that the tweetchat habit was more than anything else as I eventually realized that my Saturday night was incomplete without it. It complemented the health policy research I do for a living, and more importantly, taught how to communicate my ideas effectively through social media. Most of all, it has become like family.

Thankfully, about late last year I had the opportunity to adjust my schedule and make time for the regular tweetchat, and develop a great friendship with its regular participants. Before I knew it, we were planning together for a national summit, that to my pleasant surprise they have been organizing annually.

It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside that a national healthcare social media initiative began as a tweetchat organized a passionate group of friends, and that they have given me an opportunity to be part of it.

I share this story as an invitation to people who would like to contribute to the success of health care social media in the Philippines. Attending the HCSMPH is just the beginning. Join us in the #HealthXPh tweetchat every 9PM Saturdays, and let’s exchange ideas. Who knows, your idea might just be what our country needs to achieve better health!

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