Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it


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What’s really important in life

hugs

Thanks to Sterben Edelweiss for this great pic. http://sterbenedelweiss.deviantart.com/art/Hugs-319958604

It’s really easy to get stuck in our daily routines. For many of us, that routine is filled from morning to night with texts, phone calls, emails, and social network posts from laptops and desktops and smartphones and tablets. Usually, it all seems like what we’re doing is the most important thing in the world.

And then, you get a phone call that stops you in your tracks and makes you realize that the things that seemed so important really aren’t in the whole grand scheme of things.

Yesterday morning I got a blast from the past. It was from a dear friend from college, Deanna, who tweeted a picture of me with her mom. In fact, she was my maid of honor in my first wedding. We were very close for years, but then life happens and people change and move on. She moved to California and I stayed here and then, well, life just continued.

We sporadically kept in touch through the years (more years than I’d like to count!), first by letters and then through email, back in the days before social networks. Yes, I am that old. Of course more recently, we’ve shared more through the magic and ease of Facebook and Twitter. She’s been back from California for about 10 years, and although we had tried to make plans to get together, it just didn’t happen for one reason or another.

When I saw that picture yesterday, I was flooded with many happy memories, some that I had totally forgotten about. I spent a lot of time with Deanna and her family, and those were some of the happiest times of my life. But sometimes the past becomes the past and we don’t think about it. Maybe because we get wrapped up in everything that life brings as we get older.

Deanna’s mom, Mary Ann, was an absolutely wonderful and wise woman. She was quick with a smile and a laugh and truly enjoyed her children and their friends. She always had wonderful, calm advice to give if you needed it or asked for it. She also lost her husband way too early to an incurable brain tumor, and she did it with poise and grace that still amazes me to this day.

Having been in touch with Deanna, I knew Mary Ann had been very ill, and I knew it was just a matter of time. And so a few hours after I got the picture, I sent a message to Deanna through Facebook for an update. And less than a half hour later, my phone rang. It was Deanna, choking back tears, telling me her mom had passed about 20 minutes before, surrounded by her family. She was no longer suffering and was finally at peace and reunited with her husband and love of her life, Neil.

We did not talk long, just long enough for her to know I cared and I sent my heartfelt condolences and tried to comfort her during such a difficult time. And even though we have not seen each other for years, she said there would be a small memorial service for “Meeps” and she’d love it if I could come. And our conversation ended with an “I love you” on both ends.

And it’s when you get a phone call like that, when you hear another person’s pain, and when you feel the kind of empathy I did, that everything just falls into place. You see things with greater clarity. You understand that the important things in life are not the deadlines or the content or the branding or how many hours we spend working.

What really matters are our connections to each other, our shared experiences and emotions and our constantly changing relationships. It’s about being a good friend, a supportive daughter, a loving and caring spouse or partner. And it’s about being there for others when they need you, especially during the difficult times.

And so now I will reunite with a friend, and it’s such a shame that it took something so sad to bring us together again, in person. Because really, there is nothing like a warm embrace to show someone you love and care for them – and that’s not something any social network can ever provide.

So take the time to be with the people you care about. Pick up a phone and make plans to see them. Hug them, kiss them, share your feelings with them. That’s what life is really all about.


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Physicians are not your (Facebook) friends

Doctors on Facebook -- is it a good idea? (photo by j.reed)

When you’re sick, hopefully the first person you call is your physician. In that sense, he or she IS your friend. But unless you’ve got a standing relationship with your physician outside the exam room, that’s where the “friendship” should end.

But in today’s socially connected world, physicians who are on Facebook with personal accounts may find themselves receiving “friend” requests from patients. While there are policies in the works from several agencies like the American Medical Association, nothing has yet to be formalized. While there are several sources for guiding physicians, like this article from FiercePracticeManagement, many physicians are still left in a quandary. As a result, several of our physicians have asked us what they should do. We worked with our legal department to develop some guidelines for our doctors to consider if and when they receive these request

Although this goes against the social media “be social!” mantra, first and foremost, we have recommended that they not accept the friend request, based on a few simple facts. The first is obvious: physicians must maintain patient privacy and confidentiality at all times, and while that’s easy to do in a hospital or office setting, the lines can become a bit blurred when it comes to the world of Facebook. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for a patient to initiate a conversation on a Facebook wall that could cross the line, thereby eroding the boundaries of the physician-patient relationship, and possibly even threatening ethical standards because of the casual nature of communication on the social network.

We also have asked physicians to keep in mind that accepting friend requests from patients will allow those patients to see personal information and have a glimpse into the private lives of the physicians. Unless the privacy settings are tweaked carefully, patients who are now Facebook friends would be privy to the doctor’s conversations with friends, or see the photos of dinner and cocktails last weekend. It could change the professional image and reputation of a physician if a patient can see into the private and/or social life of a physician.

I recognize that this may go against the grain, but we felt it was in our physicians’ best interests to keep their personal and professional lives separate. On the other hand, if they were to establish a Facebook account for their practice, I believe that would involve a totally different set of guidelines.

I’m very interested to hear how other hospital marketers and social media managers are advising their physicians. Share your thoughts!

This post was written for an originally appeared on www.hospitalimpact.org.