About 10-12 years ago, the shoe dropped in the information technology industry.
Email is not good for collaboration.
As a matter of face, email is really bad for collaboration since it wastes a lot of time for a lot of people – all the people who got your email, not just you. You’re in the inbox and instead of solving a problem, you end up housecleaning and two hours later after having clicked on some links, you wonder where the time has gone to.
This is not a good modus operandi for a busy physician.
In addition, email has serious security and privacy issues.
If you’ve ever shot off an email with a distribution list and realized a few minutes later that you had some unintended recipients, you know what I mean.
Email and in particular Web mail and mobile smart phone based mail is a common channel for unauthorized transfer of sensitive data from a healthcare organization. In an environment such as a hospital, where relatives and insurance companies are constantly probing the system for information, it is no wonder that data leakage of PHI (protected health information) is a fact of life. DLP (data loss prevention) technology can help mitigate this threat but it’s still not widely deployed in healthcare organizations – so the risk is there.
Why is social software a better fit for healthcare providers and physicians?
There are 4 important areas where social software (groups, tagging, commenting, private messaging, file sharing, picture sharing and friend networking) are of relevance for healthcare:
- CME – continued medical education
- Collaboration with colleagues
- Connection and monitoring of vital signs and events with patients.
Social media may be a good fit for marketing your private practice or hospital but don’t bet on it.
Most doctors, hospitals and healthcare organizations associate social media with marketing and as a way of standing out from the competition (which is a bit difficult isn’t it, since everyone is on Facebook and Twitter these days and with high decibel levels of social media noise, your practice or hospital is not going to be heard very well.
Social media is a great channel continuing medical education. I’ll talk about CME with social media in a separate post.
For collaboration with colleagues and connecting with patients social software provides a number of distinct advantages of email:
Social software provides context - messages, files, images that are shared with members of a group are all associated with the group and tagged and categorized, which means that a thread on patient status change over time is constantly available in context of the group, and accessible via the tags, categories and free text search.
Social software is much more productive and secure than email. In email, you must use distribution lists to send a message to multiple recipients. There is the constant overhead of maintaining distribution lists of email addresses. You miss one, they never receive the mail. You add a wrong name, you have a data loss event. Now consider a physician managing Parkinsonian patients. He adds patients to his personal private social network by invitation only (pulling in members, unlike email which pushes out messages). He then adds his new Parkinsons patient to his generic groups on Parkinson (diet, exercise, contra-indications, new drug pipeline). One post and every member and only the relevant members have access to the content. For individual connections, the physician has private messaging which uses the same group members or individual members for sharing the message. The doctor can see immediately if the patient read the message.
And – in the private social network, purpose-built for healthcare – you won’t be reading articles and checking NBA scores 3 hours later. Who has the time anyhow?
- Just between us - Private messaging 1 on 1, group message from doctor to patients.
- Sharing that is so simple - Share your files, your guidance, your experience, your comments.