Presentation: Social Media, New Technology and Total Health – Nurses are Social

I was honored this last week to be invited to the the first ever Kaiser Permanente “Celebrating Triage/Advice Nursing” conference, where I presented the keynote, “Social Media, New Technology for Total Health.”

For people who are unaware of this branch of nursing, it is a group of health professionals accomplished in other settings like the hospital, or medical office, who become skilled at telephonic and other forms of remote care. This is very much “health information technology,” and I would argue that these professionals are the most advanced in all of healthcare in its practice.

These RNs are practicing mHealth, today

At the conference, I asked the RNs to engage in a dialogue about what they were seeing in the population they were supporting, and they have important insights, because this is impacting their work, today. It might not be said that members using cell phones are having the same impact in physician practice of medicine as they are for this group.

For example, they told me how calls today using cell phones often are broken up due to call drops, are often more pressured/rushed due to the environments members are calling from (everything from parking lots, to moving cars), and are changing the way they work with members. In one example, I was told about  workplaces where the nurses can only ask questions with “yes/no” answers to preserve confidentiality.

RNs are more social

The other thing that impressed me as a statement made by Janette Wackerly, RN, MBA, RN, California Board of Registered Nursing. She said:

“RNs are very social animals, are we not?”

To a very strong audience response.

I had not previously considered the differences between RNs and MDs in the uptake of social media, and it made me think that RNs may very well have a special/leadership role in health care’s use of social media. Even though my personality inventory registers off-the-charts extraversion, I don’t think MDs in genral would self-identify as strongly social (or extraverted) as this audience did and acted.

This is a good point in which to recognize the work of Phil Baumann ( @PhilBaumann ) – I mentioned his work to the group, and in my research most or all of the roads lead to him in promoting RN involvement in social media, which is a good (great) thing.

Kaiser Permanente has over 42,000 nurses; 1,000 of them are advice RNs. The nurses in this group are specialists in providing care anywhere, and my own observations, prior work, and the voices of members confirm the great service they provide.

Slides are below, click on any to enlarge. I am trying to get these to upload to my slideshare account and will update this post if I am successful.


Ted Eytan, MD