I think I’m going to do a series of blog posts about myopia (my own). Most recently I’ve been a short-sighted idiot about the possible uses of proprietary social media platforms for hospitals—these would be branded communities tied to a specific hospital system or academic medical center.
We heard the first whispers last year and at the time I thought, “People are not going to adopt a new platform that requires time away from Facebook, Twitter, etc., and if they do they’re likely to want to do it on PatientsLikeMe or WebMD, not a hospital site.” I was also concerned that since hosptals are typically limited by geography, the potential audience would be small relative to the blockbuster social-media sites. (My first friend on Mayo is actually from Malaysia.)
I recently put together a list of tactics to increase likes on hospital Facebook pages. In the course of querying a lot of smart people about best practices and tactics, I got a fair amount of push-back, mostly along the lines of “Why would you need to do that? Social media is about engagement—it’s not an arms race for likes and it’s not a broadcast channel.”
That’s been the conventional wisdom ever since Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li published Groundswell.
It’s time to challenge it.
Here’s the primary reason: you cannot have meaningful engagement without critical mass. You just can’t. Ask any cub scout leader, minister, or community organizer. If people don’t show up, it’s going to be difficult to have a den meeting. And if they don’t know there’s a meeting, they’re not going to come.
Let’s look at the numbers.
Originally posted on KevinMD 6 June 2011.
There have been a couple of widely-publicized cases recently of physicians divulging patient information in social media. I’m sure the doctors involved did not intend to violate patient privacy.
While there are several excellent guidelines and policies on this topic, there isn’t a whole lot of practical advice, so here are my tips to help you avoid privacy violations (I hope this is the beginning of a conversation that will encourage more doctors to participate in social media).
1. Don’t talk about patients, even in general terms. It’s so difficult to anonymize patients, it’s not worth your time to attempt it.
For example, it’s pretty obvious no thinking person would post this: “Dave Ekrem was in the ER last night with alcohol-induced liver disease.”
But this could also identify your patient: “We had a fifty-year-old male in the ER last night with alcohol-induced liver disease.” (Somebody’s going to say “Really? In Boston? Hey—where was Dave last night? He’s fifty. Oh—I feel sorry for the kids.”)
And so could this: “Had a patient in the ER last night with alcohol-induced liver disease.” It takes only a couple of clues for the sleuths and wags to piece something together. As little as time frame OR geography, coupled with condition, could be enough.