Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D.

Director of Digital Health, Professor, Sean N. Parker Center For Allergy and Asthma Research, Stanford University | Author, "Mama Doc Medicine"
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Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson is a pediatrician, health communicator, and expert in digital health. She has dedicated her career to expanding the practice of general pediatrics in part by using public communication tools and digital software to improve education, connection between patients and care teams, and public health. Dr. Swanson started the first physician-authored blog for a major US hospital in 2009 working to combat misinformation in the news and online for families. She was a pioneer in using social media in medicine with a focus on increasing trust in the science and safety of immunizations. For more than a decade, she generated worldwide interest in pediatric public health topics, her team's digital health innovation projects, and prevention solutions by leveraging her blog, social channels, and media opportunities.

As Chief Medical Officer for a start-up, Dr. Swanson currently leads efforts to foster conversations around the importance of early and consistent inclusion of common allergens in babies' diets. In 2020 she designed an end-to-end, virtual clinical trial enrolling 1500 infants across the US focused on early infant feeding, leveraging EMR-based electronic and online parent chat rooms for novel participant recruitment.

As a pediatrician, author, and a prominent advocate of evidence-based medicine and prevention, Dr. Swanson speaks internationally on prevention, digital health, and health innovation. She has been a leading voice in health care and media, working to revolutionize health communications by using social and digital media to bridge the gap between parents and doctors.

Prior to her work at Stanford, Dr. Swanson practiced primary care pediatrics for 12 years, worked for the NBC Seattle-affiliate, KING5 News, as a weekly on-air TV medical contributor, and wrote the Seattle Mama Doc blog for Seattle Children’s Hospital for 10 years. Swanson established and founded the Digital Health department in 2013 for the hospital and was later named Chief of Digital Innovation. In that role, Swanson led a team in innovation by testing and creating new digital tools (software, voice technology, social media, outside innovation pilots) and innovation projects across Seattle Children's and the US.

She is an official spokesperson for The American Academy of Pediatrics and a frequent contributor to national TV, radio, and online news outlets. Her first book, Mama Doc Medicine: Finding Calm and Confidence in Parenting, Child Health, and Work-Life Balance was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in March, 2014 and is a Gold Award Recipient of the Mom’s Choice Awards.

An honors graduate in Psychology from Kenyon College, Dr. Swanson earned an MD and MBE (Master's in Bioethics) at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School Of Medicine and completed her residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Dr. Swanson spent 2 years teaching middle school, bilingual, science & math in Oakland, California through Teach For America before beginning her career in medicine.


Technology & Health: What's Changing and What's Not

As technology infuses the health space, we must examine the opportunities of novel innovation on improving wellbeing, health care, and the experience of both prevention and treatment of disease. From chatbots, AI software, social media, and digital health to cancer screening, mental health, and the toll of the “diseases of despair,” Dr. Swanson will explore the challenges at the confluence of rapid, technologic innovation and health. Some things are changing and some things must not. As our lives are inevitably altered by things like ChatGPT, we can guide what health care becomes. Audiences will walk away with a deeper understanding of how and why technology and innovation outpace the velocity of change in health care delivery. They will gain insight into how to effectively embrace new technologies to enhance their ability to serve their communities; be prompted to consider the ethical implications of integrating novel technologies like AI into health care delivery; and learn strategies for problem-solving amidst the ongoing "infodemic" sowing seeds of misinformation and distrust. Dr. Swanson will explore what matters most with today’s challenges for humans (prevention of disease, COVID, violence, isolation, cancer, heart disease, mental health, costs in health care, etc) as technology transforms the way we live our lives. She’ll discuss where technology cannot encroach on care and provide a way forward to improve your approach with examples to peak curiosity and solution-making.

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Mama Doc Medicine: 10 parenting topics worth talking about

All parents want to do what’s right, yet many parents find that defining what’s right can sometimes be elusive. Dr. Swanson helps decipher today’s conflicting medical opinions, offers helpful online resources, and shares what she’s learned over many years from her patients, friends and family in this enlightening talk on parenting. Stories can trump data in parent decision-making, but Dr. Swanson uses narrative and stores to bring science into focus. Topics span issues such as: safety and prevention, social/emotional support, immunisations and the ever-elusive, work-life balance.

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Immunizations: Essential To Wellness

Dr. Swanson has been an advocate & champion for immunizations and vaccines the better part of her career. She most recently presented at the 2015 National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) flu season press conference in Washington, DC. She was a sought after source of information and knowledge during the 2015 measles outbreak. She speaks internationally on vaccine-hesitancy, vaccine science & safety, and the role of smart storytelling in building trust in the immunization schedule. She has presented throughout the U.S. to health care workers and public advocates about new approaches. Nearly 95% of parents consult their “people network” when making decisions on vaccines. Dr. Swanson will highlight topics like: cocooning infants, using social media tools & text messaging to spur uptake in vaccines, vaccine schedules and debunking vaccine myths.

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How 140 Characters Are Changing Healthcare

Social tools, widespread use of smartphones, and savvy entrepreneurs are changing health care forever. It's a new time when it comes to seeking advice about your health. While widespread social media and evolving online networks change access to information for patients and their families, they also dramatically shift physician and provider responsibilities. Improved communication is the future of smarter healthcare. With the changes emerging technologies have presented to everyday life, clinicians must problem-solve with patients and share expertise unlike ever before. Dr. Swanson will speak to how novel technologies wed with patient involvement is (for the better) forever changing the future of healthcare delivery. We can leverage patients as partners in advancing health. Through her work as a pediatrician, her experience sharing health information in social and traditional media, and her leadership running a team in digital health and innovation at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Dr Swanson will share lessons learned, tips for technology implementation and the rich opportunities that reside in patient and family co-designed healthcare delivery solutions.

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Digital Innovations Provide Hospital Solutions and Enhanced Patient Experience

Strong caregiver-patient relationships are built on communication and Dr. Swanson speaks to how the new tech landscape offers outstanding, innovative opportunities for efficient, yet humanistic, exchange of information in the hospital environment. Drawing on her experiences as Chief of Digital Innovation for Seattle's Children's Hospital, as well as her broader observations, Dr. Swanson shows how technology can create efficient communication solutions while enhancing patient care and caretaker experience. For example, in the pre-clinical space, Dr. Swanson built a private online community (Virtual Handshake™) to introduce patients and their loved ones to the doctors and care team they'll meet during visits, education and tips to help before, during and after their appointment or hospital stay, and allows families to build a community around their child. Her team has also built a peer-to-peer and expert-to-family educational app co-designed with patients and families, that leverages pharmacist and sub-specialist expertise for solid organ transplant patients and their families. The app helps support families’ understanding of necessary medications and care after transplantation. Her team measures engagement, experience scores and quality metrics. A pioneer in the use of the digital space to provide humanistic doctor-patient information, Dr. Swanson is a warm, authoritative voice on using new technologies to efficiently and effectively deliver an enhanced healthcare experience.

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