Two items about social media.

1) I often get the question in interviews, “How much time do you spend on your blog and other social media?” I often answer, “You wouldn’t think of asking me how much time I spend on the telephone, and it is a lot less efficient than social media.”

Think about it this way. A major advantage of social media is its asynchronicity. The person or people with whom I am communicating do not have to be doing it at the same time as I do. Another advantage, of course, is the broader reach of social media, being able to be in touch with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people.

But, for those who still want to know. I usually write one blog post per day. I’m a pretty fast writer, so that takes 10 to 15 minutes, usually at home at night or first thing in the morning. (This one is being composed during the Celtics-Lakers game!) When readers submit comments, I get email notifications so I can monitor those comments. As you can note from looking at the blog, there are unlikely to be more than two dozen comments per day. Each one takes just a few seconds to review and post.

Keeping up with Facebook and Twitter are “fill-in” activities during the day. I leave them open and check when I have a minute or two. (I send birthday greetings from home before going to work.)

Regarding email, I try to check accumulated messages at least once per half hour, depending on my meeting schedule. I do that because I do not want to be a bottleneck while people wait for my assent or opinion on matters related to hospital business. One trick of time management I learned years ago is to read each message only once and act on it immediately. That is usually possible, although some messages take extra thought and therefore require a return visit later in the day.

2) Regarding social media access in the work place, I received the following email message this morning:

I’ve noticed significant Facebook usage among employees at work on hospital computers.

I believe this distraction has a significant effect on productivity.

I have friends in private practice who have fired employees for using social media sites at work while they are supposed to be attending to patients.

It may be time to add Facebook to the list of blocked sites; a list that includes sections of Craigslist, the lottery, and pornography.

To which I replied:

Sorry, but absolutely not. Facebook is a useful communications tool, just like email and telephones. The latter can be misused, too. Besides, if you ban Facebook on computers, people will just use it on their iphones.

Paul Levy is the President and CEO of Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center in Boston. Paul recently became the focus of much media attention when he decided to publish infection rates at his hospital, despite the fact that under Massachusetts law he is not yet required to do so. For the past three years he has blogged about his experiences in an online journal, Running a Hospital, one of the few blogs we know of maintained by a senior hospital executive.

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10 Responses for “Social media interlude”

  1. CHP says:

    Thanks for the insights, Paul. I agree that social media, when used properly, can be a really effective communication tool. And since the health and medical industries change so rapidly, connecting with peers through social media is a great way to keep updated on relevant news and current events.

  2. smart patient says:

    “Paul recently became the focus of much media attention when he decided to publish infection rates at his hospital, despite the fact that under Massachusetts law he is not yet required to do so.”
    He also made news about hiring and favoring his lady “friend”, a former student of his, under investigation by the Ma AG.

  3. Vikram C says:

    Socially, social media will take way more than give back. It could even be the next big addiction. We need to clear our minds and not fill in all vacant spots.

  4. bev M.D. says:

    Vikram;
    I agree with you in the purely social realm, but I have found Twitter, for instance, surprisingly helpful in the links which “tweeps” post – often to sources of information and organizations previously unknown to me.
    This blog has a Facebook page which, again, is helpful because it posts more things on it than you see on the actual blog, thus disseminating more information.
    But yes, watching my daughter page through what her friends did that day is sort of mind-numbing…..

  5. Great post Paul and way to stand up for customer service!

  6. Gaby says:

    That is an interesting way of looking at social media and it does have its merits. But there is the danger of giving out a lot of personal information which could be used for identity fraud. Has happened before.

  7. Social media to promote business and stay abreast of updates immediately is not altogether a bad thing. Everything has its need for boundaries.

  8. Alex Fair says:

    I had a twit-piphany the other day that is relevant here. Social media, and twitter specifically, when used carefully can be like the best conversation imaginable about only topics you care about with worldwide experts all the time. Get that at your next cocktail party or softball game!

  9. Brian says:

    As an IT consultant I am fully aware that IT management is struggling with whether social media is productive or obstructive for companies and their employees. Software is being developed and policy and restrictions are being decided everyday by IT managers. The security of the networks of various organizations are at stake but the potential for innovation using social media is a large enough incentive for the discussion of how to properly utilize the medium continues. Palo Alto networks came up with a whitepaper, http://bit.ly/d2NZRp, which will explore the issues surrounding social media in the workplace. It is important to not only understand the immediate benefits of doing business how one lives, but the threat it presents to an organization’s greater ROI and productivity when it comes to the server’s safety and security. If your IT Department wants to block social media apps on the company network…http://bit.ly/d2NZRp and http://bit.ly/cR80Al

  10. I think there are many benefits for the medical industry to use social media if used in the right manner. Social media can absolutely be a fantastic way to connect with hundreds, if not thousands, of people, but it can also be a distraction, like you said. Here is a great article on why social media should be used in the medical industry and how it can be used in the best ways possible. http://tiny.cc/tkwpj
    I enjoyed your post, thank you!

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