How childbearing women are using social media is one of the topics that will be touched on in a breakout session at Health 2.0, which kicks off today in Washington.
Amy Romano, a nurse-midwife that does online advocacy work for Lamaze International, a nonprofit organization that promotes a natural, healthy and safe approach to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting, has about 10 minutes to speak at 2:45 pm today. And, what she says and learns at the conference could resonate with 4.2 million women - the number expected to give birth in the next year.
Romano says that pregnancy and childbirth have always been part of storytelling, playing across all cultures. "It's really a special time in women's lives, and they want to share it." Women also have a long history of social connections." And they are accelerating at the social aspect of technology, she says.
This is why social media platforms and resources that target this demographic could be more successful than one for diabetes patients, for example, says Romano.
Unfortunately, childbearing women and maternity care professionals are largely left out of conversations about healthcare improvement, says Romano.
"If we just taught pregnant women to engage in their care we would teach women to manage their own health and their children," she said.
She says this population is perfect for what the Internet offers today - they have nine months to look up online the best facility and provider for the birth of their child, which is one of the most important predictors of health outcomes.
But this data is not readily available, she says. Look at the epidemic that has risen with cesareans, which have become the most common operating room procedure, and are now a major public health problem, says Romano. "But the quality and quantity of data we have about the scope and impact of the problem are poor."
Child-bearing women have a unique opportunity to be more engaged in their care, which is exactly what the e-patient movement is all about. "The networking aspect that social media offers today, being connected with other like-minded people and caregivers," is a big part of how patients can become more engaged in their health, says Romano.
Learn more about what Romano is doing through her blog.