As a card-carrying member of the #HITsm tribe, I often reflect on the impact of social media in our industry. Obviously social media is a great forum if you want to raise awareness around a particular topic, promote an event, or spark a discussion.
However, maybe it’s time we designate someone as Social Media Czar to monitor the appropriateness of posts and make sure everyone plays nice. Of course with all the social media channels out there, there is no way one person could possibly keep up with everything, so perhaps maybe we should settle for an Emily Post-like Guide to Social Media: Healthcare and Health IT Edition, and come up with a few ground rules.
Some recent events sparked my thinking on this topic. The first was a #HITsm chat that focused on the use of interactive video streaming (Blab and Periscope in particular) in health IT, including ideas for potential use cases. In case you aren’t familiar with these platforms, they allow users to stream live video for the world to see as it is happening, or, for replay at a later time.
To me, Blab and Periscope have a certain reality TV show quality to them – except, of course, it’s all on the Internet and not TV. And then there is the fact even though your stream is available for universal viewing, your mom may be the only one who loves you enough to watch your live feed.
However, these platforms do hold great promise for education and training, as well as to share public news. During the #HITsm chat there was some discussion about the use of Blab for family conferences about a patient’s health status. For example, if you were a patient with a critical medical problem – and privacy was not a concern – you might arrange a Blab session with your physician and with family members living in other parts of the country. If some family members were unable to see the live stream, they could replay the session at a later time.
Personally I can’t imagine ever wanting to share that much of my personal life with the world, though it might be a good format for something like a reflective panel discussion on surviving cancer. So my first recommendation for the Emily Post-like guide would be:
Keep the consults with your physician personal and private. If you choose, share the general details of your health online, but the world rarely needs a play-by-play of your most intimate health details.
Penn Medicine Social Media and Health Innovation Lab recently released a study that found up to 71% of Facebook and Twitter users would be willing to link their accounts to their medical records to give physicians more insight into their health. The researchers estimate only 7.5% of postings are contextually related to health, which means providers would have to weed through a lot of Farmville games and strange kitten posts to find relevant data.
The bigger value to healthcare, in my opinion, would be to mine de-identified social media posts to analyze various health behaviors and trends. That being said, I can see the benefits of peeking at the Facebook page of a patient who shows up unconscious in the ER.
Thus, my second recommendation for the Emily Post guide:
Always wear clean underwear and keep Facebook updated in case you’re in a car accident.
The third (and definitely oddest) event involved a bit of cyber bullying. The short version is that a physician disagreed with a statement I made in an article and shared his opinion on Twitter. After I posted links to studies that supported my comment, the doctor proceeded to attack me on a personal level, including with this Tweet:
@michnoteboom read them all. know them on a level you’ll never achieve. you could take a day to read one, I’d know more in 20 min.
— docwhocuts (@docwhocuts) November 5, 2015
I have no issue with anyone publicly sharing their opinions on a published article, but there’s no reason for anyone to post personal insults – particularly when posting under an anonymous Twitter handle.
While I am inclined to recommend that posters never say anything on social media that they wouldn’t be willing share face-to-face, I am aware that the world in general – and healthcare specifically – has too many folks who seem to enjoy disruptive and intimidating behavior. Thus, I propose:
Be nice or be blocked.
Care to add to my officially unofficial list?
Michelle Ronan Noteboom
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