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Overcoming Barriers:

Strategies for Increasing Internet Access to Restricted Resources

Social media has become an important part of health care for both clinicians and patients. Over half of the smartphone owners in the United States have gathered health information on their phones.1 According to a study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, one in four U.S. physicians now use social media at least daily in clinical practice and 33% found devoting time to social media was an essential use of time, more beneficial than risky, and with high quality information returns.2 Medical libraries are using Web 2.0 technologies (blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter) to promote their libraries, teach and engage students, and support the research and informational needs of clinical professionals. These activities enhance the library’s visibility and enable them to reach a greater number of users. But there are many health care organizations that limit or completely restrict access to these technologies and hospital and specialized medical libraries are those most affected.

Working Group Members

Darrel Willoughby
Colmery O’Neil VA Medical Center
Topeka, Kansas

Michlene Mankin
Campbell County Memorial Hospital
Gillette, Wyoming

Rachel Vukas
Technology/Kansas Coordinator

The MCR Working Group on Barriers to Internet Access has created a new resource on our web site, Strategies for Increasing Internet Access to Restricted Resources, to provide support for these libraries. The site includes some suggestions for working with your institution, an outline for developing a social media plan, and additional resources and articles that provide guidance for the implementation and use of social media.

The first step is to understand why your organization has policies that limit access. Restrictions are often imposed due to privacy issues, security concerns, and the need to operate within a closed intranet. Posting to an organization’s own social media sites may be restricted to specific departments to maintain a cohesive public message. Understanding the organizational concerns and needs will enable you to determine who to approach and how to make a case for the use of social media.

It is essential to build a good working relationship with your IT department. With a greater understanding of how your organization makes use of technology, you will be able to see how you can work within your technological structure or if you need alternative access options. You may be able to make a case for an exception for the library. This resource also lists some additional technological options you can explore.

Develop a detailed social media plan before approaching your administration. There are some excellent guides for developing social media plans on our resource, including policies and best practices from the CDC and the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ). It can be overwhelming to attempt to implement several social media tools at the same time and you may want to begin by focusing on one tool, such as a blog or Twitter. Outline how you will use the tool, define your intended audience, create sample posts for illustration, and list your goals and projected outcomes.

You may want to use other successful libraries as examples and we’ve included information from the University of Maryland Medical System and the Mayo Clinic. “Going Social to Get Local: Engaging Your Community via Social Media,” is an excellent presentation (archival recording and slides) of how a public library explored social media, devised a plan, and successfully implemented it. Their experience can be adapted to any type of library and illustrates how even smaller libraries can incorporate social media. Ideas can also be gleaned from other hospital library’s Twitter feeds or Facebook sites, some of which are mentioned in The Krafty Librarian post. Subscribe and follow other libraries to see what your colleagues are doing.

We also offer individual consultations to address your specific issues. We can assist you in developing a social media plan and/or evaluating your use of social media. You can contact either of our technology coordinators: John Bramble, john.bramble@utah.edu or Rachel Vukas, rvukas@kumc.edu. We hope these resources will provide ideas and techniques to make social media a viable tool in your library. If you have additional suggestions or resources to add to this site, please contact us.

-Rachel Vukas, Kansas/Technology Coordinator

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1 Fox S, Duggan M. Mobile Health 2012, Pew Internet & American Life Project. (2012). Washington: Pew Research Center [cited 2013 January 25]. Available from: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Mobile-Health.aspx.

2McGowan BS, Wasko M, Vartabedian BS, Miller RS, Freiherr DD, Abdolrasulnia M. (2012).  Understanding the Factors that Influence the Adoption and Meaningful Use of Social Media by Physicians to Share Medical Information. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 14(5), e117.  [cited 2013 March 11].  Available from: http://www.jmir.org/2012/5/e117/

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