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Tweetchats: Are They Good For Doctors?

[Recently] some of us participated in the flagship physician Tweetchat (MDChat). Or better, I tried to participate between finishing up some calls and choking down a bean burrito.

When the idea was initially proposed to me I committed only to supporting its initiation with the occasional role of host. I’m simply overcommitted, but wanted to support Phil Baumann and those who were willing to try to break new ground. So I lurked, chewed, and pondered.

Doctors or not, everyone knows I’ve been a pretty lukewarm proponent of the tweetchat. I think they’re noisy, difficult to follow, and too abbreviated for constructive dialog. As early adopters I think we tend to put the novelty of the medium above its practicality.

With that said, chats can be fun. It’s a situation where I feel comfortable while at once restless. Kind of like at a medical staff meeting where the agenda doesn’t hold me quite as much as just being among my friends.

At the end of the day I might agree with Dr. Anonymous that the average physician new to social media might not find a twitter chat as the best way to spend a precious hour. For me that hour represents the better part of a blog post which, over the course of a month, will influence hundreds of readers and live forever.

But I suspect that there will always be those among us looking for companionship over content. And it’s hard to argue with that.

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Should Doctors Be Socially Anonymous?

I don’t think doctors should be socially anonymous. We need to be seen. Here’s why going underground isn’t good policy for physicians:

Anonymity makes you say stupid things. When you’re shouting from the crowd it’s easy to talk smack.  Come up to the podium, clear your throat, and say something intelligent. You’re a physician, not a hooligan.

It’s 2010: Anonymity died a long time ago. You think anonymity offers shelter? You’re funny, you are. Anonymity is a myth. You can create a cockamamie pseudonym, but you can’t hide.  And if I don’t find you, the plaintiff attorneys will. They found Flea.

Being a weanie is no excuse. Just as you’re unlikely to consult a lawyer before speaking at a cocktail party, commenting as Dr. You is unlikely to kill you or land you in court. Just a few pointers: Don’t talk about patients, help people out, and be nice. Trust me, I’m a doctor. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Social Media And Lazy Doctors

When it comes to the social media landscape, doctors are scarce. Few on Twitter and fewer with blogs. Maybe we’re socially lazy. Or maybe we’re just taking it all in.

Mitch Joel of Six Pixels of Separation caught my eye last week with his article ”In Praise of Lazy” and reminded me that despite the how we may want to see things, most of us aren’t interested in creating content. In fact, he describes a 1 percent rule — only 1 percent of the audience will take time to actually create content.

I suspect that if we were to take the time and do the survey properly, we would find that physicians too are largely new media consumers — or spectators, joiners or collectors in the Forrester sense of the word. Physicians, in fact, might adhere to something of a 0.1 percent rule. Like Peter Sellers as “Chance the Gardner” in the 1979 classic, Being There, we “like to watch.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Facebook: Should Hospitals Block It?

A recent piece in the LA Times created quite a kerfuffle in the social health infosphere. The article When Facebook goes to the hospital, patients may suffer detailed some of the issues facing hospitals that have chosen to flirt with Facebook. Stories of nurses posting images of dead patients. Lawsuits and employee rights. An interesting read. It offered up a serving of fresh red meat for those health professionals looking to keep their heads squarely in the sand.

A few thoughts:

Blocking Facebook won’t stop stupidity. Read Paul Levy’s most recent post on the issue. He reminds us that administrative legislation will not stop ignorance. It’s the messenger, not the medium. As healthcare administration’s most vocal advocate for social adoption, I’d recommend you check out Paul Levy. His point of view is remarkable.

Good employees may not understand privacy. We need to go to the next step and address the fact that many hospitals have employees who don’t understand the privacy laws. We still have a responsibility to protect patients from the misinformed. While it’s suggested that you “can’t stop the conversation,” it’s important that hospitals take responsibility and educate their employees regarding what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Many health professionals I know innocently believe that by simply excluding an individuals name you’ve protected their privacy. We have work to do. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

“E-Visits” With Patients: For Greedy Doctors Or Not?

Dr. Wes (a cardiology blogger whom all should read) wrote a very compelling post about technology and the bondage it can create for doctors:

The devaluation of doctors’ time continues unabated.

As we move into our new era of health care delivery with millions more needing physician time (and other health care provider’s time, for that matter) –- we’re seeing a powerful force emerge –- a subtle marketing of limitless physician availability facilitated by the advance of the electronic medical record, social media, and smartphones.

Doctors, you see, must be always present, always available, always giving.

These sound like dire words, but the degree to which it has resonated around the Web among doctors is telling. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

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I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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