Thursday, June 10, 2010

Social media interlude

Two items about social media.

1) I often get the question in interviews, "How much time do you spend on your blog and other social media?" I often answer, "You wouldn't think of asking me how much time I spend on the telephone, and it is a lot less efficient than social media."

Think about it this way. A major advantage of social media is its asynchronicity. The person or people with whom I am communicating do not have to be doing it at the same time as I do. Another advantage, of course, is the broader reach of social media, being able to be in touch with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people.

But, for those who still want to know. I usually write one blog post per day. I'm a pretty fast writer, so that takes 10 to 15 minutes, usually at home at night or first thing in the morning. (This one is being composed during the Celtics-Lakers game!) When readers submit comments, I get email notifications so I can monitor those comments. As you can note from looking at the blog, there are unlikely to be more than two dozen comments per day. Each one takes just a few seconds to review and post.

Keeping up with Facebook and Twitter are "fill-in" activities during the day. I leave them open and check when I have a minute or two. (I send birthday greetings from home before going to work.)

Regarding email, I try to check accumulated messages at least once per half hour, depending on my meeting schedule. I do that because I do not want to be a bottleneck while people wait for my assent or opinion on matters related to hospital business. One trick of time management I learned years ago is to read each message only once and act on it immediately. That is usually possible, although some messages take extra thought and therefore require a return visit later in the day.

2) Regarding social media access in the work place, I received the following email message this morning:

I've noticed significant Facebook usage among employees at work on hospital computers.
I believe this distraction has a significant effect on productivity.
I have friends in private practice who have fired employees for using social media sites at work while they are supposed to be attending to patients.
It may be time to add Facebook to the list of blocked sites; a list that includes sections of Craigslist, the lottery, and pornography.

To which I replied:

Sorry, but absolutely not. Facebook is a useful communications tool, just like email and telephones. The latter can be misused, too.
Besides, if you ban Facebook on computers, people will just use it on their iphones..

See more on this here.


Tim McMahon said...

NIce addition Paul. I get this a lot too. I think it is a lack of understanding. If people want to waste time they will do so no matter what the forum. However, if they are productive people these arenas become tools. Personally I think we need more of this. In a controlled means of course, self-discipline.

Redd said...

I took an elderly neighbor to the Lahey ER last month, leaving my children at home. During our lengthy stay (six hours) I traversed the length of the ER multiple times going outside to call and check on the status of my kids. Each time I walked through the ER I could see banks of computers in every nursing and physician station). Every third computer had facebook or gmail or flickr or twitter on the screen. Every time I traversed the length of the ER I got angrier.

We were sitting waiting for results, waiting for consultations, waiting for diagnoses, waiting for nebulizer treatments, waiting for godot. Meanwhile 30% of the staff is on what look like personal email sites or social media?????

You can imagine our Patient Satisfaction Survey reflected our feelings about this.

I might suggest you consider this in your thoughtful considerations about hospital-wide policy. YOU may be using the internet in a responsible manner, but my bet is not everybody else is, and just as importantly, the IMPRESSION that people are paying attention to their own social media and not the patients is quite strong.


MB said...

An employee's work speaks most clearly for him/her; it has far less to do with what they access electronically than what they access intracranially in terms of work ethic, motivation and attitude. I have worked in "another teaching hospital in central MA" where everything online was banned and there was no dazzling productivity. If fact, staff did not see the computer as a work resource; they were not even aware of having Up-to-Date being on the hospital's website.

That being said, I am annoyed when I see someone speaking on their cellphone or texting while waiting for an elevator during transport of a pt. You cannot be present to the pt if you are emailing or conversing…it's about respect.

jonmcrawford said...

Bravo for refusing to blanket ban social media, I was severly hampered in my efforts at work when Twitter was blocked, because I could no longer ask for advice on an immediate basis (I'm a codemonkey, and the #sqlhelp hashtag is a godsend). Not everyone will use it as a tool, but it can be extremely effective when used correctly.

As for your use of social media and blogging, your blog is excellent, full of well-thought-out information and articles that make me think and re-think. Keep it up, and thanks!


Keep Looking said...

I think your blog is excellent as well, always look forward to reading it.Your grasp on REALITY and HONESTY is really the only thing that confuses the masses

e-Patient Dave said...

As a social media freak myself I agree & understand about its usefulness. And at the same time I presume everyone knows they need to get their job done.

Redd's story raises a difficult aspect. It occurs in the context of the enormous mess that ERs are, today. I'd take a wild guess (without knowing) that throughput would not have changed with the "socmed" sites removed, because I bet those people weren't on the critical path - but I don't know. It seems people ought to be sensitive, though, to the perception issue Redd raises.

My BIG question is how you can possibly deal with every email in a quick review every half hour. I've attempted to process every email just once, trying to adhere to much-publicized methods like "Inbox Zero" and GTD / Getting Things Done, and I still have (literally as I write this) 1,818 unread emails. Do you trash a lot without giving them much attention?

Maybe I think too much - really.

Anonymous said...

Well, yes, most are spam and go into the trash without reading.

Others are updates from people that just need to be read and acknowledged. (People are used to getting a one-word reply from me: "thx", "good", "great".)

Others get forwarded to other people with a short message: "fyi", "please talk together abt this".

If you have 1818 unread emails, delete them all right now. They are certainly out of date. If any are important, the sender will resend.

Sicilian said...

They block facebook at my hospital, and it is as you say. Everyone is on their phones. On the busier shifts there is less facebook activity, however it is still done.
One nurse was fired for "bashing" the hospital on facebook.
We have added to our annual competencies a module of social networking too.
They are trying to control it, but it is extremely difficult.

Bobby Rettew said...

Hello and how are you? Great thoughts about the use and time management with certain social media's...but the Facebook situation brings me to some thoughts. First, has your hospital implemented a "Social Media" policy for employees? Second, how do we balance the reality between those using social media's to communicate inside the hospital with those using up resources that could affect "patient safety"?

Anonymous said...

I think you miss the point when you suggest that there is a need for a separate social media policy with regard to these items. The general policies with regard to employee behavior apply.

Bobby Rettew said...

Paul, thanks...that makes sense.

Ken Honeywell said...

Nice post, Paul. I try to not check e-mail as frequently as you do, but I think you definitely need a plan--or else you'll check it every thirty seconds.

And good on you for recognizing the importance of social media at your hospital. Health care is a word-of-mouth business, and social media are the greatest word-of-mouth engines ever created.

Anonymous said...

Ken... "Health care is a word-of-mouth business, and social media are the greatest word-of-mouth engines ever created."

Great quote. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am an IT management consultant and trust me when I say that when approaching your IT department about social media you should arrive armed with knowledge and facts. This is a whitepaper in a language they may understand best... It's an interesting whitepaper on the safety and security of your network and why employees should have access to their social media apps. Pass it along to your IT department. Best of luck!

e-Patient Dave said...

A couple of updates on social media policies -

An exchange with @TStitt:

Me: "Some employers DO have a phone policy - or did. 'Employees are not to use the phone for...'

@TStitt: "I remember debates about email policies. Along with certain execs refusing to use/read email."

I'd forgotten that one - perfect!

Then today Tweegle appeared - a way to make your Twitter site look like Google, specifically to fake out bosses whose policy is "no tweeting during office hours."