Docs Can Do Social Media, Just Ask Dr Ves

Perhaps it is just my perception, but a lot of articles directed at doctors seem to stress the negative side of social media and physicians.  I would be Polyanna if I didn’t say there aren’t risks to social media, but everything in life carries risks.  Living a life without risks isn’t living.  That isn’t to say somebody should throw caution to the wind either.  Life is about managing and risk vs. reward balance. 

Dr. Ves Dimov has a very good post about a how a doctor can easily participate in social media and benefit greatly from that participation.   In his post, “For doctors: How to be a Twitter star in two easy steps,” he address the issue of time (lack of time, more specifically) and Twitter.  Specifically he says Twitter should take no more than 30 min. per day.  I have to agree with him.  I spend more time on email than I do on Twitter.  I have Twitter up and running in the background and when an interesting tweet comes across I read it or comment on it.  Takes me a total of 10-20 seconds total, perhaps a little more if they link out to an interesting article that I read.

For me Twitter at work is very similar to MEDLIB-L (the medical librarian listserv), medical librarians with questions or seeking to share quick bits of info send out tweets just like they send out emails on MEDLIB-L.  The difference between the two for me is the content.  Medical librarians on Twitter who post in general or using the hashtag #medlibs tend to post more tech related things, time sensitive things, or share good articles quickly.  MEDLIB-L tends to have more in depth questions and discussions (naturally since it isn’t restricted to 140 characters). 

For example, when the government was threatening to shut down, I received a question from a patron asking me about whether PubMed would remain running.  I have to say the first thing I did was tweet the question.  Why?  More than just medical librarians are on Twitter.  If my librarian friends don’t know the answer they can quickly RT and it goes out to another layer of people.  Think of it as an information network onion.  Your friends are one layer, their friends are another, and their friends friends are another. 

April 18th, the same day the MLA online program planner came out, there was already a discussion on Twitter about how to add things on the program and import it into a calendar.  The online program planner (and the difficulties encountered adding programs or importing it to a calendar) weren’t discussed on MEDLIB-L until May 2nd.  This is example is not to point out that Twitter is faster or better than MEDLIB-L, on the contrary I have seen things break  MEDLIB-L before Twitter.  I just use this example of how Twitter is used professionally to get short answers quickly.

I highly recommend Dr. Ves’s post for people (especially physicians) interested in Twitter.  Even those who think they aren’t interested in Twitter might like to read how easy it is to get started.  As Dr Ves says, Twitter is a good place to start if you want to get involved in social media.  It doesn’t require a lot of time to do or maintain and if you “have common sense, and never share the 18 HIPAA identifiers online or offline with unauthorized parties,” then you can minimize your risks and maximize your rewards for participating in social media.

News Breaking on Twitter

By now everybody knows that Obama went on national TV at 11:00pm last night announcing that US forces killed Osama bin Laden.  Sunday evening I was watching TV, like many Americans, waiting for the weather report to tell me that there will be even more rain this week.  All of a sudden the local anchorman reported President Obama would be addressing the media at 10:30 and the subject of his speech had not been released but it was news that would affect not just the United States but the whole world. 

My husband and I looked at each other, I said Libya and he said immenent terrorist attack (ala the series 24).  Both of us went to the web to see if we could find out what was going on.  I have to admit my first stop was checking out traditional news outlets such as MSNBC and CNN.  Neither even mentioned the President’s upcoming speech, let alone any hints about what news was so important that the President would address the nation on a Sunday night.  It wasn’t until I clicked on Facebook (for totally different reasons than Obama’s speech) did I see a post from a friend on Facebook from Twitter indicating that bin Laden was dead.

RT @SecondFront: Twitter says Osama bin Laden’s dead. President to address nation in minutes.

That tweet was posted a good half hour before President Obama addressed the nation confirming the death of bin Laden.  About 15 minutes after reading that tweet, the regular media were reporting the President’s speech was most likely about the death of bin Laden.  As one friend on Twitter said, Obama “better start soon or his entire message is going to be irrelevant.”  Twitter scooped the President and the news media by a good 1/2 hour.  Actually there was one person who scooped everybody by 7 hours by unknowingly tweeting about the operation

On his blog, Daniel Hooker, has an interesting post on how Twitter is his primary news channel. 

Twitter doesn’t break news for me often in the sense that hours before an event is reported I know about it. It is my central channel for news, though, so what I like about social media is its ability to provide me with things that are easy to miss through all the pundit and questionable-expert-commentator babble.

Twitter has become a news and information sharing mechanism, often getting information out to the public before official channels can do it.  Now I realize the events at MLA are nowhere near as serious or have as much significance as the death of bin Laden or the tornados in Alabama, but news about the convention is being discussed. 

Just browsing the hashtag #mlanet11 you will see people discussing various events, vendors inviting people to their booths/events, discussions on local restaurants, SIG activities, etc. 

I know there are people there who aren’t sure how Twitter fits into medical libraries or the convention.  Heck I was that person a few years ago.  I stated in various webinars and speeches that Twitter was interesting but I wasn’t sure how it fit into medicine and libraries.  I still don’t know of all the ways it can fit, but I see it fitting in a lot more than I did then.  I use Twitter to discuss library issues with colleagues almost as much as I use MEDLIB-L.  Both are tools I find extremely important for staying up to date on information.  Using Twitter at the conference will just be another example of its use in providing rapid information to people. 

I encourage everyone to sign up on Twitter and see how it works for them, especially if they are attending MLA.  If you are hesitant, you can always search the hashtag #mlanet11 to see what is going on.  But doing that is like talking on the phone with laryngitis.  You can hear what people are saying but you can’t speak up and join in the discussion.

Congratulations Library Journal’s 2011 Movers and Shakers

Library Journal’s 2011 Movers and Shakers have been announced and congratulations to all of these people.  I want to specifically congratulate two librarians doing medical and health information services, Healther Holmes  and Rosalind Lett  

Heather, who is listed as a “Change Agent,” is an information services librarian for the Summa Health System in Akron, OH.  She developed a clinical medical librarian program at the Akron City Hospital with a general internal medicine team providing point-of-care reference service.

Rosalind, listed as “Advocate,” is the associate director of Public Services at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library.  Saw a need to increase health information literacy in north Alabama and got a grant from the  National Networks of Libraries of Medicine to bring health literacy skills to all 12 branches of her library.

The MLA Guide to Managing Health Care Libraries has been published

My book is out!  Ok truth be told it isn’t my book, I just co-wrote a chapter.  A lot of people (especially the editors) could call it their book too since they worked hard on it as well.  So I really should be saying…. Our book is out!

The MLA Guide to Managing Health Care Libraries is available.  If you are interested in purchasing the book (hint, hint) Neal-Schuman has a new promotion linked to the video produced by Charles Bandy (who I suspect might have secret life as a DJ in techno clubs).

Go to the link to view the video and get a $15 discount coupon code.

http://www.neal-schuman.com/blog/2011/03/02/watch-us-on-youtube-and-save/
On a personal note, I want to thank the editors Maraget and Roz for editing the book, also the co-authors on our chapter.  While I have written several journal articles, this is the first time I have ever co-authored a book chapter.  It was difficult but interesting and I am glad I got the opportunity to do it.

http://www.neal-schuman.com/blog/2011/03/02/watch-us-on-youtube-and-save/

Thoughts About Journals at 2am

At 2am while feeding a newborn, a lot of random thoughts pop in and out of my head, including one about the cost of online journals and usage. 

Have we gotten to a time in libraries where the print version of a title is worthless?  Ok worthless is probably too strong of a word.  How about forgotten?  Have we gotten to a point in time where users forget about printed journals and use only online titles.  This is not to say that they don’t know that there are printed titles. When they do a search or are given search results what do they do first?  They scroll through and print off or save all of the articles that are available online.  The ones that aren’t available online are left to the end only to be retrieved if they need a few more articles to answer their question or do research.  If they feel they have enough articles already from the ones they downloaded online, they don’t bother with the ones that are available in print only.  Those articles become the forgotten articles.  I am not saying this is the best or most comprehensive way to do research, but it happens all the time. 

Librarians rely on usage stats to make decisions on what journals they intend to keep our purchase (ILL request stats).  So have we gotten to a point where a printed journal automatically gets less use (despite quality of articles) because it is not online?  Would going online make that journal more useful?  What if the online version of the journal is too expensive for your library, do you hold on to the print because it is one of those titles that you feel you should keep?  Or do you dump the title?

If you dump the title in print and you don’t get it online, the publisher is losing your money.  Do you think there should be a trial year online subscription (let’s say for twice the cost of print) allowing you online access to the title? This way both you and the publisher can determine a “fair” online price based on a year of usage data? 

Determining what a “fair” price after that year may be sticky, and the pricing details/levels should be worked out a head of time before you embark on a year trial.  That way as the year progresses you can tell your supervisors that you currently have a year trial subscription to the Journal of Big Toe Science and it is getting X amount of usage and if that usage trend continues that means next year it will cost approximately $Y to have.  Everybody can plan ahead of time.

I am not entirely sure how well this would work, like I said a lot of things float through my head at 2am.

Friday Fun: Nominate a Librarian Superhero, Winners Featured on Collectible Lunchbox

Gale is running a “Are You a Librarian Superhero” contest on their Facebook Fan Page from Feb 1st-Feb 28 2011. 

In 250 words or less tell why you or somebody you know is a librarian superhero.  The Fantastic Four librarian winners will join the ranks of Wonder Woman, Superman, the Hulk and be featured on a collectible lunch box as cartoon superheroes by the Unshelved guys. 

In the nomination please include what kind of superhero traits are most apparent to the library user and the superhero’s “normal” identity such as their name, day job, name of library/institution.  Every nominator will also receive a special prize.

So maybe it is just me, but I gotta think that we at least one medical librarian out there that qualifies as a Librarian Superhero.  So medical librarians start picking your brains because it would be really neat if we could get somebody as animated librarian superhero.

Windows 7 Phone in Medicine

The new smart phone on the block is the Windows 7 phone.  I have to admit I kind of like their ending bad phone behavior with a better phone, themed commercial, because we have all been there, either as the phone user or the one saying “really?” 

Whether you believe a “better phone” is the answer to our bad phone behavior (and whether that phone is a Windows 7 phone) is debatable.  What isn’t up for debate is that people bounce from phone to phone.  Cell phones now days are disposable.  According to a 2007 Business Week article the average cell phone was replaced every 18 months.  That was primarily before the emergence of the smart phone.  Yeah sure the Blackberry was around but the smart phone tsunami had hit with the introduction of the iPhone.  Cell phones back then were still relatively cheap.  It is hard to think really that a $400+ smart phone device is disposable.  According to an article on MSNBC it still remains to be seen if consumers are as willing to change their smart phones as often.  But people there will always people who are going to change them (me possibly being one of them) for some reason and there are still quite a few people buying their first smart phone. 

So I was happy to see iMedicalApps post, “Physician developer’s experience with moving his popular iPhone and Android medical apps to Windows Phone 7.”  As the author mentions, the Windows 7 phone is still extremely new so there are a lot of medical apps available on the platform.  Although it should be noted that Unbound Medicine recently announced the availabilityof their products for the Windows 7 phone.  (My guess is that the iMedicalApps post was written just slightly before Unbound Medicine released their Window 7 products.)

Because the phone is so new and as a result there is a lack of medical apps available, I am not sure I can recommend the phone yet. The iMedicalApps post reminds us there are now some deeper considerations to investigate before we move to a new smart phone platform.  Doing a search on Google will give you many results for switching from one phone platform to another and the pros and cons (particularly moving from iPhone to Android).  However, if you are using the phone for work, one of the biggest considerations would be the portability or availablity of mission critical apps. 

I am in the process of seriously considering moving from my iPhone 3G to a new Android.  The reason for me is $$.  I am having a hard time stomaching a $160 bill for 2 iPhones (mine and my husbands).  I am seriously thinking of going with Virgin Mobile’s Android phone which is $40/phone for unlimited data, text, and 1200 minutes on the Sprint network.  That would cut my two smart phone bill in half.  Is this a good idea?  I don’t know, I love my iPhone and the experience, I just hate the bill.  So in a few months once things have settled down (switching cell phones just before delivering a baby is probably not a good idea) I will make the decision.  One way other other I will let you know why I moved or didn’t move.

NLM Has New Web Site Look

The National Library of Medicine’s home page http://www.nlm.nih.gov has a new look.  The new look is designed around “your top tasks.”  I don’t know when they say “your top tasks” whether it is customizable directly by the individual user, uses cookies or some other programming to customize the page indirectly based on your usage, or if they are using “your top tasks” to mean the general public’s top tasks (most frequently used links).  My guess and please correct me if I am wrong that it is most frequently used links design method.

According to their news release, they ” updated thousands of pages within the site,” included top navigation to popular links, and added social sharing functionality so users can share content to people through Facebook, Twitter, and social bookmarking services. 

I like the new look and feel, but I have to admit the times I go to NLM’s site is when I am trying to get to databases which are featured prominently on the left hand side. I don’t go to the site for new or other things all that often because I already subscribe to their RSS feed, Twitter feed and Facebook.  So it should be interesting to hear how others who use the site a little differently like the re-design.

Happy Holidays: Build Your Own Bookmas Tree

In case any of the librarians in your library want to get into the holiday spirit and are looking for something beyond holiday window clings, take a look at Texas Medical Center Library’s Bookmas Tree.

They even have a “How To” guide available should you want to try it in your own library next year.

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Enjoy the holidays with family and friends, I will resume posting after the new year.