I am amazed at how quickly Facebook and other social media platforms have integrated themselves into the everyday lives of hundreds of millions of users world wide. For good or bad, Facebook and other social media networks will continue to revolutionize how world citizens act and interact. In fact, it may have been responsible for the revolutionary uprisings in the Middle East. For hospitalized patients, Facebook may be a patient's preferred method for updating family and friends of their condition or it may simply be used to pass the time that is filled with never ending hours of frustration with the constantly changing game plan. In the future, social networking for hospitalized patients may even change how doctors and patients communicate.
When Facebook and other social media outlets first presented themselves several years ago, many hospitals banned access to these sites through their unsecured WiFi service. Perhaps this was a hospital's way to block unproductive activity from hospital staff. Unfortunately, patients at these hospitals often lost access to their only lifeline to family and friends. With the explosion in smart phone and iPad technology capable of internet access through cellular towers, blocking Facebook and other social media platforms through WiFi connections has became irrelevant. Most hospital staff can now use their iPhone or Android phones to bypass any blocks placed on hospital WiFi connections. With doctor-patient rounding moving rapidly to mobile EHR platforms, banning cell phones and iPads in the hospital will never happen.
For hospitals that continue to block Facebook and other social media outlets, the only folks being blocked these days are the elderly grandmothers and grandfathers who have chosen not to adopt smart phone technology. Some of these patients simply don't have the dexterity to navigate the prevailing touch screens with ease. With so much emphasis being placed on patient satisfaction scores these days, I can't imagine any hospital continuing to censor access to the internet, including Facebook and other social media outlets. With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to find an 87 year old patient typing away on her hospital provided lap top computer, Facebooking updates to her family and friends. I asked her what kind of updates she was providing. She said she had a young good looking hospitalist taking care of her.
How about that.