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I just attended the Association of Academic Surgery (AAS) meeting in San Diego. This was my first time there and I enjoyed the meeting very much. Many of the surgical papers showed a trend away from randomized controlled trials, with more focus on large patient databases such as NSQIP, National Inpatient Sample, SEER, National Cancer Database, etc.
Some had told me that AAS meeting attendees tended to be cool, almost aloof, but my experience was the opposite. Because the AAS provided lunch during some of the meetings, I was often seated with many whom I did not know. On many occasions, I found a ready handshake and easy conversation.
I did notice a few things about the meeting. The Hyatt hotel was large, hosting at least 3 or other meetings, so I noticed that once inside the building there were no signs to point out the registration desk. After I was directed from the 3rd floor to the main floor lobby and wasted 15 minutes, I found the AAS meeting. I would suggest that certain folks be easily identified to help those of us who are new to find our way. Improving signage would also help.
In addition to many new face to face contacts, the AAS also provided electronic means of connecting. Twitter opened the attendees to collaboration opportunities between different centers. There were sessions devoted to media, communication skills, career advancement, billing, global surgery, and political issues like Obamacare and Gun Control. To my delight a great deal of focus was on Social Media with even one paper presented on Twitter use. The slides from that presentation were uploaded to SlideShare for all to see. Some attendees wore a Twitter ribbon indicating they were going participate heavily by Tweeting during the meeting. Many conversations were started through Twitter. This surgery meeting was probably one of the first not to demand attendees to turn off their phones which were busily used to engage via Social Media.
It is nice to see a surgical society come into the digital age by embracing these Social Media tools.
I will return.
With all the buzz online and in the news about the Twitter – how it should be used, the stock, can it make a profit, I decided to write about how I came to embrace Twitter. Before October 2013, I knew nothing about Twitter. I only started an account after attending a course in Social Media at the Mayo Clinic.
Around that time everyone, everywhere was chatting about the upcoming Twitter IPO. People asked what was Twitter, what was its role, how could one use it. Many predicted the IPO would not do well as it had yet to make a profit and some felt its growth was slowing.
I read “Hatching Twitter” by Nick Bilton who wrote there “were two completely different ways of using Twitter. Was it about me, or was it about you? Was it about ego, or was it about others? In reality, it was about both.”
For some, like celebrities, it is about sharing status, where they are, or what they are doing. For others it is about sharing news, more a “communication network, not just a social network” Bilton writes.
This disagreement underpinned that of two Twitter founders, Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey, which lead to each falling out as friends and partners.
I don’t care if Twitter ever makes a profit. I am happy to use it my own way as each and everyone of you can use it as yours.
As a professional, I avoid Tweeting about myself as much as possible. I use Twitter to post links to interesting articles about my work, health care and surgery. I can always go back to these references later. In that way, Twitter is a catalogue of my online professional musings and learning.
I attend several medical conferences a year. Twitter allows me to share what I learned from these meetings and some have gone so far as to say that social media tools like Twitter may make attendance at these meetings obsolete. I hope not. While at a meeting, I use Twitter to share information, start conversations, and share my adventure as a tourist with pictures of local sights, restaurant finds, and discussions of things to do.
On a personal note, I do use Twitter as a form of a diary. It matters little to me if my followers read it as I am tweeting for myself. I spend a lot of my leisure time travelling, eating out, reading and at the movies. Sometimes I forget what I did or when I saw something or travelled somewhere. I attribute this to age. So I record most of my day on Twitter so I can reflect back on these experiences and memories later. I expect that with time and a growing number of posts, going back to review these will become more difficult.
How you use Twitter will not be the same as how I do it. Perhaps you want chat about a topic, investigate an interesting topic, market or sell something. I wanted to write about the particular way I use this social tool.
Because of Steve Jobs everyone can be a publisher. When he unveiled the iPhone on Jan 9, 2007 he put the ability to ‘publish’ within the reach of all. We no longer have to sit at a computer, printing press, TV or radio station, use a tape recorder, a still or video camera. We carry all the means of broadcast in our pocket, we can do it on run. No one can shut us down. As Marshall McLuhan said, “the medium is the message.” Now the message is the message.
I learned a lot at Mayo this week and quickly applied it. I want to share this knowledge with my colleagues but the story would really play more like this:
One day I left my village and travelled to the city. I read many wonderful books and I came back to my village and told the villagers about these books. However they could not see what I learned nor could I show them because books are banned in my village.
I felt like a delegate from North Korea who came to the Mayo Clinic to learn about Social Media. Upon my return home, I was not able to show my country folk the value of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest since my country does not allow access to these sites.
This is the problem I face at my hospital. I want to demonstrate to my colleagues the wonderful things that social media can do for their practice and for medicine and for their patients. The problem is the access to all social media on the Internet at my hospital is blocked. The only way to show them the benefits of social media is by taking them off campus.
Even more laughable is that all emails from my friends at the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media are filtered out by my hospital system spam filters. So much for a two way conversation.
I want to start somewhere, for me it’s the bottom rung. I see a long climb ahead. I am a neophyte in these arenas but I have started my on my own. My employer will not support me and I suspect, some will try to stop me. They cannot stop me from expressing my views. I am not going to make defamatory comments. I do not plan to disclose any medical, personal, or confidential information. I will follow the ethical guidelines for Social Media use as outlined by the Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Social Media Guidelines
Let light shine out of darkness as it says in the Bible 2 Corinthians 4:6
In July 2013 I saw the headline: My system was named among the national Most Wired providers. Really? What I really like is irony and I can’t keep quiet about something this ironic.
When you turn on your wireless device at my Medical Center you will see an invitation to “like” it on Facebook. Click on it and you find access is blocked. Try going to your Facebook page, you can’t. Try to Tweet about this Most Wired facility, you can’t.
I have asked why. Answers range from security to patient privacy.
Leadership told me that Most Wired refers internal processes, their medical record and communications. So semantics aside, internally we are well connected. But greater acclaim will come if this medical system starts to connect externally to the rest of the digital world.
Internally, communication amongst ourselves is impeded. I joined Yammer which is a private social network. Only employees of my hospital can see its private Yammer network. In this ‘Most Wired’ hospital all emails from my colleagues about Yammer are filtered out by its spam blocker. The reasons given resolve around security.
At Mayo access to all these Social Media venues are not blocked. Is the largest integrated health system in the world less concerned about security than my system. The reality is that my system shows its weakness in this matter.
Am I trying to stir the pot? You bet I am. I want to engage my own system, in a discussion about the importance of Social Media and Health Care. I am tired of hearing No. Let’s talk instead or as they say in Social Media, let’s engage. It isn’t just Social Media, it is Social Engagement or Exchange.
My hospital needs to be ‘wired’ to the digital community to truly deserve the Most Wired award.
Mayo Clinic Social Media Residency in session.
I’ve talked to many of the attendees who not surprisingly have heard about Geisinger health system. They have heard of Obama’s pronouncement that it is one of the model health systems in United States. They have seen the June 2012 TIME Magazine cover which features our health system prominently.
Yet Geisinger has a tiny digital footprint with a negligible social media presence. Ironically if a similar social media residency were held on our Geisinger campus, real-time blogs and tweets would be blocked on its wireless system.
Nothing stops me from blogging or tweeting about this wonderful event. I will continue to do so until the barriers to social media are taken down on the Geisinger facilities.