Wednesday, August 29, 2012

SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE MEDICAL PROFESSION


I am a Luddite when it comes to social media, the web-based interactive media such as Facebook and other more professionally oriented ones like Linkedin.  I do have a Facebook page but I rarely use it. I have a blog where I post my poetry http://stephenleeder.blogspot.com.au/ but no one ever visits and another blog where I post extended versions of articles like this
http://steve-leeder-better-health.blogspot.com/. And yes, I have Tweeted 30 times!  Basically, I stick to email.

But my youngest son (19) belongs to a generation for whom social media are a principal social communication channel. Recent medical graduates know all about it and how to use it wisely and well. It serves to link doctor to doctor and to some extent patient to doctor.

Social media according toWikipedia includes “web- and mobile-based technologies that are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue among organisations, communities and individuals”.

Today, news travels like lightning via Twitter and Facebook.  "A common thread," says Wikipedia, "running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the [rapid] co-creation of value."

Social media are cheap to use.  Anyone can publish on them unlike on the commercial media.  And they are immediate: whereas it may take weeks to get an idea into print, with social media communication is now. You can edit an article easily on social media whereas reprinting to correct an error is a nightmare. 

Are the social media likely to be professionally useful?  My guess is that they will prove to be so.  A group of general practitioners could use social media to discuss how best to manage a group of patients in a local nursing home. But they might get their fingers burnt unless the social medium they were using was fenced off, like a gated village, for their use alone. 

Australian Doctor has established docs4docs for that purpose.  Take a look at http://just4docs.com.au/index.php/forums/topic/26/medicare-locals and see as an example a series of depressing conversational comments on Medicare Locals

If you are going to use social media for professional purposes please be careful.  A list of questions to ask yourself before you get too deeply into social media were provided in a paper published in the Medical Journal of Australia last year by a working group drawn from the AMA Council of Doctors in Training, NZMA Doctors-in-Training Council, AMSA, and the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA).
A guide from which the MJA paper was drawn can be found at http://ama.com.au/socialmedia.  Here are the questions.

Have you ever Googled yourself? Do you feel comfortable with the results that are shown?

Have you ever:

• Posted information about a patient or person from your workplace on Facebook?
• Added patients as friends on Facebook or MySpace?
• Added people from your workplace as friends?
• Made a public comment online that could be considered offensive?
• Become a member or fan of any group that might be considered racist, sexist, or otherwise derogatory?
• Put up photos or videos of yourself online that you wouldn’t want your patients, employers or people from your workplace to see?
• Felt that friends have posted information online that may result in negative consequences for them? Did you let them know?
• Checked your privacy settings?

So there you have it!  Good luck but take care!

31 comments:

  1. Dear Professor, now someone has visited. I found your post in australiandoctor.com.au. As a non doctor I could not read the whole post, but found your blogpost so I could read it, in its entirety. I have tweeted it for you under my Twitter name Jenniferlb. I tweet about Best Practise LinkedIn and Social Media Usage in Australia and run workshops for professional services people including Lawyers, Accountants, Financial Services and some Medical Professionals.

    I wonder what your goals are or might be with social media? I wonder what risk mitigation strategies the medical profession has in place when protecting online privacy, managing organisational and individual reputation.
    I would be happy to have a phone conversation or email dialogue about this.
    You can review my pofessional profile here:
    au.linkedin.com/in/jenniferleebishop
    or email me at: info@contentandcopy.com.au
    Best Regards
    Jennifer Bishop

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