Social Media and Technology: How Our Roles are Changing #infantmortality

By Allan Stamm
CEO, Go Beyond MCH

Jason Stamm
COO, Go Beyond MCH

There are several factors that we have noticed are changing the way we as maternal and child health (MCH) professionals and information technology providers work together and address the landscape of infant mortality. New and better theories for approaching MCH as a whole have emerged; the way communities interact and share information has expanded and the need for more insightful information technology solutions has increased. We hope these changes are leading to more collaboration and higher standards for results in all communities.

In general, the way we view health as a profession and as a society has shifted from treating a symptom to treating root causes. This better understanding and acceptance of the factors that affect health emerged from the Life Course Perspective and continue to resonate within the MCH profession. We now recognize that causes of infant mortality are not simply derived from medical conditions but also from social factors and pressures, nutritional conditions and availability of resources to all populations. MCH professionals are now able to more efficiently develop preventative programs to meet the needs of the population, while the way in which we communicate with the community at risk and the way in which data is tracked has changed significantly.

There is now what seems like an infinite number of ways for a community to reach their targeted population. The emergence of social media, mobile marketing, blogging and more have created new, effective ways to reach at risk populations. These resources can be fairly inexpensive to implement and provide fantastic results as a tool for prevention and awareness. However, with this new media comes a change in mindset and a need to develop a new skill set. We all have to adapt to this constant and transparent media, and understanding that it is here to stay is the first step.

The next step is to brainstorm how this new media can be a research tool for our profession. We have all seen social media play a significant role in Egypt, the UK riots and natural disasters. So, how can we as MCH professionals think outside the box and use this media for issues like infant mortality? Can we monitor the overall health and sentiment of our communities via social media sites? One example is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) use of Twitter to monitor outbreaks, misconceptions and more. Simply using hashtags and searches, the CDC has been able to respond to public health issues with nearly instant turnaround time.

Once the communications and new media questions are answered, there is then the question of how to effectively track and monitor each individual as they receive services from multiple programs. The information technology solution needs to be based on integrating multiple programs and users into one software solution modeled around the social model of Life Course. We have modeled our MCH software solutions on the social circles of a community and then created the ability for each individual’s care and case management to be tracked and monitored through multiple communities. This allows for a data output that takes into account the path of women, children and families through multiple social services programs.

We invite you to continue the conversation with us online and share your opinions and thoughts on changes affecting the way we as MCH professionals and information technology providers address #infantmortality. Start by watching our exclusive interview with Carol Brady, Executive Director of Northeast Florida Healthy Start, Inc, and Board Member, Reverend Tom Rodgers, as they share their experiences and successes in overcoming challenges and working towards their infant mortality goals. Videos can be viewed by visiting YouTube.com/GoBeyondMCH.