(Fire)Wallflowers Invited to Dance?
If you work in a hospital library, you probably don’t need me to tell you that hospital IT departments frequently block Web 2.0 applications due to concerns about privacy, security, and/or productivity. As a result, hospital librarians have had precious little freedom to experiment with using blogs, wikis, and other social media to improve communication and enhance service. Here is some evidence to suggest that the rules are (just maybe) starting to relax.
- A great many physicians, nurses, pharmacists, healthcare IT specialists, and hospital administrators are bloggers themselves and are no doubt realizing the value of Web 2.0 for professional development and communication. See Medworm for a categorized list of blogs. Life as a Healthcare CIO and the Healthcare IT Guy are two I’ve been reading lately.
- Physician social networks such as Sermo and Medscape Physician Connect are flourishing.
- On his new blog Found in Cache, Hospital IT Manager Ed Bennett posted an impressive list of hospitals using the social networking tools Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for marketing and communication. There are 153 hospitals on the list.
- Two weeks ago, surgeons at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit live tweeted a robotic surgery.
This is all well and good, but what does it mean for you? For advice on negotiating your way around firewalls and blocked content, read this article by Medical Library Association (MLA) Past President Mark Funk:
The advice is intended for leaders of professional organizations, but much of it applies to individuals as well.
Some additional suggestions:
- Don’t stereotype.
Not all librarians are sour-faced women with buns and glasses who enjoy shushing people all day. Similarly, not all IT professionals are clones of Nick Burns: Computer Guy. Don’t automatically assume conversations with them will be difficult or intimidating.
- Be clear about what you want and how it supports what you do.
If you don’t know what you want to do, sign up for a Web 2.0 Distance Learning class and request temporary access to the tools covered in the class. Geeks Bearing Gifts Online will be offered in the PNR again later this year. MLA is offering some free Short Courses on Web 2.0 as well. Here is a list of MLA Sections, SIGS, and Chapters using Web 2.0 for communication.
I’ve avoided blogging about this topic because there are no easy answers! You hospital librarians out there? You are the experts. Please share your tips for negotiating with IT staff and working behind firewalls.