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Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

Living and Working Social--Good or bad medicine for healthcare?

Living and Working Social--Good or bad medicine for healthcare?

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WP_20130529_007Last week I attended a medical life sciences tech conference in San Diego. I stayed at the conference hotel.  The hotel was located, in fact connected to, the baseball stadium that is home to the San Diego Padres. That same side of the hotel was also adjacent to a rail yard. I commented in a post here on HealthBlog that I didn’t get much sleep at the hotel. Although I was given an absolutely lovely corner room on the 19th floor, I was awake most of the time during both nights of my stay there. Between stadium noise and especially the continuous, thunderous train noise from the rail yard below, I didn’t get the rest I needed.

Shortly after I returned home from this trip, I received an e-mail from the hotel asking me to take a survey about my stay with them. I actually gave the hotel very high marks for the beautiful accommodation and room amenities, excellent service, and great dining experience. In addition, I left a detailed comment about the room noise and mentioned that perhaps I should have asked for a room on the other side of the hotel.

What surprised me about the survey was this. Prior to logging off, I was asked if I wanted to submit my survey results directly to one of the leading, global on-line travel sites. “Wow”, I thought, “these guys (Omni) really care about their customers, so much so that they are actually encouraging me to broadly share my experience with the entire world, even if some of my experience was really bad. That takes guts!”

imageThis got me to thinking; how many hospitals and health systems would be willing to do the same? Do you encourage your marketing department, employees and clinicians to engage in social media? Do your thought leaders have a blog? Do they Tweet, share information on LinkedIn, collaborate on Yammer, have a profile on Facebook? Or is your organization still stuck in the 80’s?

Social technology may be relatively new from a business perspective, but like it or not, it is already a normal part of daily life for ten of millions of people. Those people are your employees, clinicians, patients, customers, partners and community members. The way they connect and interact with people, information and organizations today is changing in ways that have a profound impact on the modern workplace. Is your workplace embracing or resisting this change?

According to results in a recent Microsoft Enterprise Social Research Survey, when it comes to supporting social media, the healthcare industry is behind most other business sectors. Education and government didn’t fare much better.

 

                                  % Use for Professional Purposes

All respondents

Government

Education

Healthcare

Email

93%

94%

95%

91%

Team sites and intranets

58%

53%

49%

55%

Instant messaging

56%

43%

53%

44%

Video conferencing

51%

34%

51%

40%

News feeds

42%

37%

45%

33%

Public FTP/Cloud Storage

32%

19%

50%

21%

External social networks

31%

19%

43%

22%

Internal social networks

22%

15%

21%

18%

Blogging platforms

17%

11%

26%

11%

Microblogging

17%

11%

24%

11%

Web aggregators

14%

7%

17%

10%

 

imageAlthough their organizations may not support the use of newer technologies and social media, people who work in the healthcare industry see things a bit differently. Here’s what employees had to say. 77 percent of healthcare workers said they like using new technologies that make them more productive at work. However, only 57 percent said they have full access to the technology and tools that help them do their job to the best of their abilities. 46 percent said using social tools at work is frowned upon. 45 percent said their IT department can be a barrier to using social tools. Only 31 percent said their company understands the value of providing social tools in order to improve employee collaboration and productivity.

Hospital and health system workers and their organizations also rightly raised concerns about information security and safety. 48 percent of healthcare workers said their management is concerned that employees will disclose sensitive information about the organization (or its patients) through social tools.

Social media and the other new ways that people are accessing and sharing information, communicating and collaborating aren’t going away. You cannot bury your head in the sand. The keys to getting all this right are as follows::

1. Assess your current situation and clearly define your vision

2. Get executive and expert support

3. Start with specific teams, mapping to value, then building off success

4. Determine how to measure your success

5. View social as a journey

The next time one of your patients has an great or poor experience in your facility, would you be willing to make it easy for that patient to share his experience with the entire world? You might be wise to take a lesson from Omni. This is what today’s progressive organizations are willing to do. Transparency via the web and social media is here to stay, with or without your help. Wouldn’t you say it is better to be proactive and have a plan? No plan is just that…… no plan. And that is taking a very big risk.

For more information about employee use of social tools and the work environment, check out this great resource.

Bill Crounse, MD                   Senior Director, Worldwide Health           Microsoft

 

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