Friday, November 13, 2009

Twitter Lists : The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Last week I was at a Social Media Breakfast event Paul Chaney talked about the watchwords of the new web being aggregate, curate and filter content. This sumarizes twitter's new list functionality perfectly.  I personally have been longing for a way to combine my contacts, since I started down this crazy twitter road, so I just love this. The icing on the cake is that I can also categorize and share lists of the people that I think other people should get to know. This has the potential of making twitter much more powerful for me.

I have made my own twitter lists for the hospital and for myself, but what I have really enjoyed is finding other peoples lists and subscribing to them.

Here are some of my FAVORITE lists so far. 

Ed Bennett's US Hospitals List

Dr. V's Health Care and Social Media

Lee Aase Healthcare Tweeps

Stephanie Thum Clinicians

Why Mommy's Cancer Fighting

CyberDad's NCI Cancer Centers
My Lists

I also saw this yesterday, an aggregation by the New York Times of their lists. ( I really like this and hope to see more of it from organizations. I know that I hope we can create something like this soon.

What are your favorite lists so far? Please add them to comments and share the love! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Muliple Social Media Pages -vs- Single Brand Presence

A colleague of mine recently returned from a Ragan social media / health care conference with a question that was asked during the session where she was on the panel.

The question: Why does your hospital develop multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts versus one single account?

There are a lot of reasons why we do it that way. I am not saying it is the right way or the wrong way, it is just what works best for us. Our way might not work for you but here is a little insight into our thinking.

I've done a bit of digging and discovered that our communications/marketing department structure internally is different from other hospitals. Communications is not especially centralized here, it happens all over the institution. Our communications office is in the building across the street from our internet content team, and you have to get on a shuttle bus to get to our marketing team. There are also people with communications, web and, marketing duties sitting in departments all over the institution. We also have over 300 web content editors for our website that sit in over 100 different departments. Needless to say, people here are used to owning their own content. Again, not saying it's right or wrong, that's just how it is.

Customizing your content for the audience is a nice thing to do. It is nice to be able to share one message with a prostate cancer survivor, and a different message with parents of a child with cancer. If we have enough content to serve an audience fully, we can customize the content to the audience. If you look around at our pages, one of our most popular Facebook pages is not about cancer treatment at all.

When we began deciding how we would do this, we realized that social media is also about individual voices we are comfortable in letting the experts handle their area of expertise. Some of our early social media strategy inspirations were in the news media. CNN, Wall Street Journal and PBS. These brands allowed you to subscribe to only the content that was of interest to you. I liked that idea.

So now our office of physician relations manages their own twitter feed. They share information, and have conversations with physicians that would not be authentic coming from me, someone in the communications office. Those conversations frankly would not happen if they were not having them. I am only one person, and I just don't have that kind of bandwidth or inside knowledge of the business they do in that area of the institution. We train them, educate them on the guidelines and we work together. The community of social media project managers here is pretty tight knit, and supportive of each other.

It's really not a very different approach to what other large hospitals do. One hospital I know of that has a large social media presence chooses to create multiple blogs, for various audiences, and keeps their social media presence simple. Currently we only have one public blog. I'm sure their approach has something to do with their culture too. Perhaps they have more staff with the ability to write and manage blog content, where we have more that dig social media, maybe they just have a different content strategy, or their communications goals are different. Who knows?

I think the decision on how to approach your social media engagement should be made based on your individual organization. It has a bit to do with how you are already working together, what your communications culture is currently comfortable with and how much / what kind of information you have to share with your audience.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Physicans and Patients Connecting on Facebook?

One of my first faculty social media skeptics sent me this wonderful article from the New England Journal of Medicine. In the article a doctor talks about the perception versus the reality of physicians who connect with their patients on Facebook. Dr. Jain starts out by describing the initial "anxiety felt about crossing boundaries" as an "an old problem in clinical medicine but it has taken a different shape as it has migrated to this new medium."

I think that this is an emotion that any professional in any discipline feels when considering social media use. When it comes down to it we all have a life outside of our profession, and not everyone is comfortable mixing those worlds. Many of our relationships at work are very surface in nature. We ask about the kids or what the weekend has in store as a courtesy. How much of your life do you really want to share with coworkers or patients? What if your opinions, affiliations or extracurricular activities are not popular or comfortable to discuss outside of your circle of friends and family? Do you censor yourself?

This may be even more daunting for physicians. "During medical training, the importance of maintaining professional distance — however much one desires to have a close, meaningful relationship with one's patients — is taught by educators and reinforced by the use of beepers and paging services meant to shield physicians from their patients." So how does a physician participate in conversations with their patients while still maintain a safe distance?

At my hospital I have the pleasure of working with a one very creative physician who has decided to create a fan page. (See his fan page) He wants to be available on Facebook and share information without opening his personal presence to patients. We don't know yet if this is the right answer but it does allow him the freedom to try Facebook for patient interaction with a little more control over the level of interaction.

I think it is too soon to tell if there is any real danger of adding patients as fans on Facebook, but it seems that the perceived danger has felt real enough to keep many physicians from embracing it fully. If the fan page approach turns out to have benefit to our faculty member we will post the results either to this blog or to the blog for the hospital.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to Find out Who's using Facebook in your Hospital

Last week our internal communications department wrote a short article in our online / e-mail employee newsletter about our use of Facebook. It was meant to raise internal awareness, and maybe gain us some new followers. At the end of the article they added a short list of sanctioned institutional Facebook accounts, and my contact information for questions.

The article appeared on the home page of the intranet first thing in the morning. I took a look, and was pleased, then I ran off to my morning staff meeting, then across the street to one more meeting. Two hours later I got back to my desk to find voice-mails and e-mails from staff asking why their departmental Facebook fan pages and groups were not on the list that was in the article?

My answer? "Every group and page that has followed the institutional approval process for Facebook groups was added to the list. If you contact external communications, filled out the form and followed the guidelines, then your group should be on the list." My favorite response to that was a bit of stuttering , then "well I am going to have to contact the admin that set this up and get back to you about this" Then I think she hung up on me.

Now I know who exactly who is in violation, and they know that one of the sanctions for creating a group without institutional permission means you will not enjoy any institutional support for that group. Now we realize that anyone and everyone is allowed to set up their own Facebook page. It is not our intention to shut people down just for not following the rules. However the guidelines are in place for a reason, to protect the institution, and the administrator(s) of the content.

We found another well meaning, but sort of rogue group a few weeks ago, so we asked our legal department about our options. There was not much we could do, but they did recomend that we ask employees who create these groups that don't want to comply with the guidelines to place disclaimers on thier page stating that their page is not an official representation of the institution.

If I can't get this cleared up the easy way. I think that will be my next step.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Getting the Physicians on Board

physicians and social media
Early on in the process I realized that in order to make content both authentic and representative of the hospital, I would need to get the physicians on board. In the beginning it was tough. I would call and e-mail and harass their admin's to try and get them on camera for a quick video, or get them to sit still long enough for a 15 minute podcast recording. It was not unusual for me to get no call back, or a no show's on the appointments set by admins.

My one saving grace was that I am a part of the external communications team. The physicians are used to getting calls from other members of the team asking them to do interviews for traditional media. I leaned quite a bit on my colleagues for help in figuring out which physicians were the most media friendly, tech savvy, or just plain nice. Sometimes if physician had a breaking story or research coming out they would just book them into a session with me at the same time they were booking their traditional media interview schedule, the physicians just thought they were coming to do another interview.

So every time we got an opportunity we
  • Made it an easy, and comfortable experience
  • Made the process flexible, accommodating to their schedules and streamlined so that it took as little of their time as possible
  • During set up answered the questions about the value of this project for them and their program
  • Offered the content up to them for use on their department web page
One interview at a time, we eventually began to develop a reputation for becoming a service, instead of a chore. We started to get phone calls from administrators asking for our help in finding opportunities for further exposure for the programs through social media. We are finally to the point where it is not as difficult to get them to participate, if they can find the time.

A year ago I had maybe one physician who was really engaged in social media, and participating willingly. Today I have a solid handful or real success stories.

Here are a few examples of our Physicians using social media at my hospital

Dr. Anas Younes

Dr. Raymond DuBois

Dr. Michael Fisch

Dr. Oliver Bogler

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back to the Blog

I am pleased to announce that there is finally a blog! For as much fear and trepidation as the concept caused it arrived with very little fanfare. It launched on a Thursday in the afternoon in “soft launch” mode. This just means I asked for it to go live, but did not link it to anything, so you really had to know the URL to find it. This gave me a few weeks to play with it. I spent about 2 weeks getting used to the process of putting in posts, fine tuning the navigation and getting feedback.

The good news is, the feedback from inside has been great. I have heard from lots of people inside, and I think they are pretty proud of the product. There are currently multiple requests from faculty who want to write for the blog. Initially we were afraid that we would'nt have enough content, and estimated that it would be years before we had the need to evolve to a multiple blog structure. If the process continues at it is, I expect that we will soon have a need to support separate blogs for news, research and maybe a few of the cancer support topics.

I'm also pretty proud of the guidelines. These guidelines were the main reason we were allowed to proceed with development of the blog. I think that they are strong enough to keep legal and HIPAA happy, but flexible enough to allow honest, mostly uncensored feedback to the posts.

Lessons Learned
If I had it all to do again I would have asked for more feedback from the outside world earlier in the process. I learned some things about the perspective from outside the hospital that I did not consider until about 2 days before the full launch. I realized that I should have put even more thought into my navigation structure than I did. I am semi-happy with it now, but I think there is room for improvement.

I would love to know what you think? I am up for any constructive criticism you can offer. I think I have probably heard most of the feedback about what is wrong, but you guys are pretty creative, so I may be pleasantly surprised. Read the Blog

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Social Media is a Team Sport

When I first began to try and figure out the social media plan for the hospital, I was the lone wolf in my office. I spent the first few weeks in my office doing research and trying to figure out the plan. Soon I realized that others were interested in what I was learning, so early on, I started a social media club for other employees who I knew were interested in the topic. We met every few weeks for lunch and learn sessions. In these meetings had lots of fun, and we taught each other all that we knew and shared our plans for experimentation and implementation.

Soon the need was so widespread that we outgrew the club, and moved on to training by department, then collaboration on multi department projects. Despite the fact that I did not have a team working on this... I did have a team.

Oddly, the folks in my own department were still a bit hesitant about jumping on board. Some of it was techno fear, some of it was disbelief in the concept of online social communications, some of it was time. They were already feeling over worked the effort it would take to learn yet another thing was overwhelming. But in the PR industry the tide began to turn. They were finding that they were not getting the same results with traditional pitching, and slowly but surely they began to see their media contacts not only showing up all over the place online, but they started finding pitching opportunities in social media.

A year and a few months later I have a team. Every pr person in my department is now trying to shoot video, taking their own pictures, setting up podcasts, submitting blog posts. They are almost all on facebook and/or twitter. Last year when the wall street journal called asking for doctors on twitter, I had 1! Today I know of at least 10 at my hospital, a few of them are actually doing some pretty groundbreaking things while tweeting.

Last year, to pull off social media I had a bowling team, this year I have a track team, which seems appropriate since last year it was a crap shoot, and this year it feels more like a marathon.

Who to follow on twitter from my hospital

I know there are mores, so let me know if you think you should be on this list by submitting your twitter link as a comment.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Supporting Web Savvy Physicians

with Web Portals & Social Media Communications

I am not a physician, however I do work with them. From what I gather, they are people who enjoy ease and convenience as much as anyone. If they are comfortable with technology then they are not adverse to using it to improve their practice. The hospital that I work for has a physician portal that assists physicians who have chosen to refer their patients to our specialists.

The portal enhances continuity of care and reduces referring physician workload by offering

- Faster referral processing
- Access to transcribed reports
- Single point of contact for patient information
- Access to more data & more reports on their treatment

and they are even working on bringing EMR access to the portal in the next few weeks.

We thought that the physicians that use social media might be the same physicians who are comfortable with technology and using it to help them in their daily tasks. So as a work group project, a few of us decided to try and implement a communications plan, with a heavy social media emphasis. Our hope was that if we could raise awareness of the portal among "those physicians" we could in turn use the robust analytics that social media and web analytics provides prove the impact of social media communications in the business of health care.

So we:

I really believe that this type of honest 2-way communication between hospital and community physician can benefit both parties. Soon we will be collecting the data behind the project and let the analytics tell the story. I will be sure to let you know how it all turns out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

5 Ways to Leave Yourself Open to Fraud or Theft without using Social Media

Last week I had coffee with a clinician who was in need of an overview on how social media might help with some education efforts that they are hoping to launch soon. Our discussion went well until he cut to the chase and explained that most of his interest was in iTunes U and the idea of developing an audio podcast series of their educational content. I explained that one benefit of this was that the information would now be portable for the convenience of the student. Not soon after, he asked the question... probably one of my most frequently asked questions.

Doesn't this leave us open to copyright infringement?

My answer was as it always is... probably, but you must decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. As you know I like to explain things in plain terms. I told him to equate it with the amount of risk you assign to a student loosing a notebook. Yes if the lost their iPod and your classroom content was on it, and for some reason it was found by a malicious person from a competing institution... yes then you might have a problem. But it would probably not be much different than the problem you would have if they lost a notebook.

Then this brilliant scientist said to me "But with the iPod they could copy and distribute our information right?" Have we all forgotten about the copy machine, or the scanner? If a person has malicious intent for your property they will find a way to obtain it and misuse it no matter where you put it.

This got me thinking about all of the other ways that we could be putting our information in jeopardy of fraud, theft or copyright infringement without using social media.

1 Throw your information into a garbage container - If a person wanted your bank, or billing, or credit card information, all they would have to do is dig through your trash after you drive a way unless, of course you are in the habit of shredding... everything.

2 Lose your notebook or calendar- What do you write down? Do you write meeting notes, or addendums to your schedule and whereabouts on a daily basis? Don't loose those bound pieces of paper they may leave you open for a transfer of TMI to someone without your best intentions at heart.

3 Place your photos in frame on your office desk - Do you have pictures of your children or friends just sitting out on your desk for the casual passer by to review. What is to stop them from stealing one, or scanning or copying them while you are out at a meeting? It would take a real sickko to do that right?

4 Post anything on your website or send it through e-mail - Every time you put your information up on the web Google takes a snapshot and keeps it in the archives forever. Check your website, does it contain anything that you would not want anyone to copy? With e-mail I have had my main e-mail account for almost 10 years, I have some oldie but goodie pictures, and notes from of people that then sent in 1999. Who owns those?

5 Carelessly allow yourself to become a victim of any kind of crime of theft - We all know someone who has been the victim of a crime. A broken into car or home, a stolen purse or wallet, or a credit/debit card number theft via gas station pump. Every time something like that happens there is a chance that more than just the surface information was stolen, and we know for a fact that those people are malicious.

I could probably keep going... Don't drink the water, don't eat the food, don't go outside... Everything that we do carries some kind of risk. Everyone has their own level of tolerance for these risks. I am just saying, don't discount the benefits of the digital and new media tools to distribute your message because of your fears of perceived risks. Research, understand and mitigate those risks with thought in how you use the tools, and understanding of what the risks really are.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The State of the Blog

As many of you know, one of the early projects that I was tasked with was development of a blog for the hospital. At the time this was sort of daunting, because there were only a handful of hospitals blogging, in any capacity. From the perspective of our institution on only a few of those were doing it well.

But I must give credit to blogs like this one and for helping me to make the case.

So I began the process of making a case for the blog, I wrote the beginnings of the guidelines documents while on vacation. Submitted the project to our IS new project cue for approval and assignment. Just in the past few months, I have begun to recruit bloggers, test layouts, and take my guidelines and work-flow concepts to our legal department.

I hesitate to report this because I feel that as soon as I do so, all "heck" will probably break loose. But the state of the blog project is good.

Other than the time that it took to make it to the table of the IT project review board, the processes has not as difficult as I imagined it would be. There have been very few heated discussions or disagreements. Most of the criticism has been absolutely constructive and has prompted me to go back, do a little more research and find creative solutions to gaps in the process.

I think the secret here is that people have been slow to warm to the concept, and our pace has allowed them to warm slowly. Also at no point has the project been half baked. We were careful to really spend the time thinking through all aspects of the project before we took it "public" There have been times that we did not have all of the answers, but those were all moments where I learned a bit more about the institution and the volumes of guidelines and standards we strive to adhere too.

I really believe that I am just a few months away from launching this project. Stay tuned...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Not Getting around HipAA

More than once, in the past few days I have been asked about how we" get around" HIPAA requirements in Facebook.

ex. dchstx @JennTex are you familiar with any HIPAA issues and social media, specifically use of images of friends/fans as profile pics?

The answer is we don’t.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requires that we do not identify patients or their PHI without their express permission.

So we do not;

  • Post images of people identified as patients on our Facebook page without a signed consent form. As you may notice we do not have very many pictures out there
  • Allow wall posts from people who identify themselves as patients and then begin sharing their PHI with the audience.
  • Allow patients to post images or videos to our pages
But the question has also been asked about the issue of fan photos in the page. I think it is wrong to assume that all of our fans are patients. Our fans consist of media, caregivers, employees, potential employees, and yes patients. Unless you choose to go to and click on every one of those fan profiles you most likely could not easily identify which are patients. Facebook also allows people to hide their profile information from the public if they choose. So you have to be a friend of that person to see any personal information about them.

PHI would only be compromised if they...
  • Are a fan
  • Are a patient, and identify themselves as such
  • Are sharing PHI on their personal page
  • Have not locked their page from the public
Facebook does offer these security features, but you must choose to use them.

I often try to draw comparisons to real life communications efforts when trying to understand and apply guidelines to our social media use. I equate this to a patient standing on our steps yelling their diagnosis and treatment plan out to the passing public. Short of kicking them off of our steps, how could we protect them futher? In that case we would have done our due diligence.

Recently I saw a video, on Youtube that a caregiver shot in our hospital, it was clearly our hospital. He was going to visit a family member, we saw his parking spot, his elevator ride, the room number he was visiting... Then he tagged the video with our name. That was really too much information. But my point is if they want to share their information they will do it, whether we exist on Facebook or not.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Supporting Social Media

This week our department /division just added a bit more weight to the social media communications program. The publications and public relations teams merged to become one large external communications team. While the merger overall means many more opportunities for collaboration and streamlining of content, it has also meant that our social media program just acquired and audio & video specialist. Whoopee!

In our first all team planning session it was made clear that Social Media was now going to be a part of everyone's communications efforts, and our new team was to be the support and training arm. Everyone would have to find opportunities to spread their content beyond just it's current audience, and quantify their growth with some type of measurement.

I wonder if this communication department structure might become more of the norm as the economy forces us to do more with less, and quantify our progress more accurately?