Phil Baumann argues that hospitals should seize the Twenty-First Century by the sub-epididymal masses and set free Twitter and Facebook. “Should hospitals block Facebook?” he asks,
That’s not really the question. Here’s the question:
Should hospitals block the 21st Century?
If they can, then that means they have access to technologies which can also probably cure all disease from the face of the earth.
Then they’d be out of business, and we wouldn’t have to fret about their policies over staples of mainstream communication like Facebook and Twitter.
And here’s the fiduciary responsibility part: the more comfortable a business is using social media internally, you know what happens? It becomes more proficient in marketing and public relations in our time.
Management is morally obligated to ensure the best care for patients. It’s also legally obligated to do what’s right for Investors.
I don’t disagree with Phil Baumann much about the supposed reasons hospitals block social networking sites: risk management, security and patient privacy are common excuses, and are mostly founded (as Baumann says) on fear and ignorance. But I think the real purpose of hospitals blocking Twitter and Facebook has more to do with control and productivity than risk reduction and confidentiality. Plainly speaking, social networking sites make people lazy.
Let me illustrate. My employer, Acme Regional Health Centre unblocked Facebook and Twitter from hospital computers for a short time. I won’t exaggerate and say it was an unmitigated disaster, but when you sit down at a nursing station and see every computer terminal opened to Farmville, and the nurses in Resus are tweeting the nurses in Exams, there’s a problem.
The experiment lasted about a month. It failed because it ignored a fundamental fact of human nature: if people are given the choice of doing something amusing and fun, like playing on Facebook, and doing something tedious and boring, like filling in MARs*, amusing and fun will win every time.
And yes, it looks extremely poor if patients and their families catch you fooling with your Facebook photo albums, when you should be getting the bedpan for the 98 year-old in Obs Six.
In the end, health care professionals — I include physicians as well as nurses in this categorization — can’t act, well, professionally with social networking sites. The ideals suggested by Phil Baumann are exciting and visionary. The reality is somewhat more drab and prosaic.
*Medical Administration Record