Monday, March 14, 2011

A Public Health Worker in SXSW Court

I always figured if I was ever asked to serve as a SXSW panelist, it would be for something having to do with music. So imagine my surprise when good ol' public health got me into SXSW Interactive for the first time.

On Sunday morning, I was on a panel to discuss the use of social media to eliminate health disparities among minority populations. Although my program's forays into social media for HIV/STD prevention have been limited and inconclusive at best, I felt like I was at least able to convey the (ahem) challenges one must face when attempting to implement something new and not especially predicable at a government agency. That doesn't mean you can't change things in a bureaucracy, but it does mean you'd better take a mighty long view of things if you don't want to lose your head. It was great to hear that experience reaffirmed by several others while learning about their work.

Aside from going slightly over my allotted time (next time I do a panel presentation, I'm going to have a timer right in front of me), my only regret about SXSW Interactive has been not getting to fully immerse myself in it due to time-sensitive projects at work, gearing up for SXSW Music, Kate's busy schedule, tax preparation and wanting to see my son for a couple of hours over the weekend. There's a lot of potential synergy between emerging technologies and public health in everything from disease management to patient advocacy to data management. Here's hoping SXSW Interactive's embrace of health continues in coming years.

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