Tag Archives: health care

Medical Students Share 50% of the Blame for Social Media Issues

This week the news broke, after a study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (abstract available publically here) that Medical Students are undermining any legitimate use of social media in health care by destroying their own professional image and alienating patients by releasing protected health information. Here’s an article that breaks down the findings: Med Students on Twitter, Facebook: No Patient Privacy? – TIME.

I have a few thoughts. First, are we looking at these student’s social media profiles BEFORE they are accepted? That would give us a picture of what we may be getting ourselves in to. Fact is, if a medical student really believes that it’s acceptable behavior to post pictures/video/accounts of him/herself getting drunk, then they probably aren’t the kind of material that will make good doctors. I’m not sure it would be acceptable for school environmental service workers (janitors) to post that kind of thing. We really need to look at what these people are telling the world about themselves not just the resume or CV they want US to see.

Second, the JAMA study concludes that Medical Schools may not have adequate policy in place. This is definitely the case. Most schools have not moved fast enough to put policy in place. In a professionalism council meeting that I attended, a physician brought up another good point… consequences. What are the consequences when the policy is broken? We have to define consequences and communicate them up front.

I think adequate policy is a legitimate concern, but I also think that policy is really inadequate to solve the issue. If we are not able to teach students how their use of social media impacts their ability to build and maintain a professional identity, then they won’t understand how their ingrained culture (engagement/social media) interacts with their new culture: medical professionalism. A list of rules to digital natives will work as well as telling our (or my parents) generation not to smoke in the boys room. People do it just to break the rules.

We have to teach, model, and expect consistent behavior that reinforces professionalism. We do that now, but if we don’t teach it in the context of the med students culture, we’re only covering half of the material. That may mean that our educators need to learn how to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

My math teacher couldn’t have expected me to take a math test using a calculator if she didn’t know how to teach me to use it for math. I would just bang away at the numbers like my 3-year-old. That’s similar to what we’re doing right now.

It is unrealistic to expect this generation not to use these tools. Social media and social networks are as much a part of their lives as their parents (sadly, maybe more). We have to see that shift and we have to respond to it by embracing the tools, learning them, and then teaching the responsibilities that come along with them as they relate to professionalism and private health information.

via Med Students on Twitter, Facebook: No Patient Privacy? – TIME.

The views expressed here are my own and not that of the Ohio State University Medical Center or the OSU College of Medicine. If you would like to comment, please understand that your comments will be moderated for appropriateness.


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Filed under Building a Social Media Program

Would You Use Social Media To Stay Healthy?

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I want to be up front about what I do… I am building a social media program for the Ohio State University Medical Center.  I love my job. Over the last couple of days, I’ve heard rumblings that we may want to allow certain areas of the medical center to shut down access to social media.

To a certain extent, I’m not completely opposed to this.  I wouldn’t want a physician surfing YouTube when the physician should be providing care to a patient.  At the same time, is turning off access the best way to ensure our physicians, nurses, or other staff are attending to their responsibilities?  Well, it depends on who you ask.

I’m of the mindset that managers should be able to set boundaries for employees, teach them responsibilities that come along with access.  Of course, I am keenly aware of all the opportunities that social media afford us to connect with patients and customers.  What about the people who aren’t aware?  It’s not that they are wrong thinking we should shut off access… if they don’t see the value, why would they want the headache of having to manage its use in the workplace?  I empathize with them, I’ve managed people.

This all begs the question… Would You Use Social Media To Stay Healthy?  Would you connect with a physician or care team to talk about best practices?  Are you already talking to your friends about health issues?  Would you want a health care provider to chime in on that conversation?  Would you engage a health care provider?

As health care professionals, we have a responsibility to keep patient health information private.  How do you view this responsibility in regards to social media?

Please take 5 minutes and pick a question or two to answer because I need your help.  I need every piece of evidence I can find to make a case that turning off social media will adversely impact our ability to serve our customer in every corner of our business.

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Filed under Building a Social Media Program, personalized healthcare