Saturday, 21 May 2011

Health professionals, social media and identity- more thoughts.


  1. @drgrumble said I know the identity of four 'anonymous' medical bloggers. I didn't even try to find out.

    A patient who used to comment regularly on my blog until she sadly died at a young age sent me my extension number and the extension number of my secretary as a warning that there was enough information on the blog to identify me. Just how she worked it out I shall never know.

    It is very difficult to stay completely anonymous. My students quickly worked out my identity. I had never even mentioned blogging to them. They just worked out who I was. I didn't know until a nurse I happened to bump into at a memorial service told me the students had told her. Once the secret is out the whole world knows.

    Being half anonymous does help a bit and in a way is safer than thinking you are anonymous when you are not.

  2. @kevfrost said Whilst I remain conscious that everything I put on the internet can and may be linked to me anytime in the future, my attempts to separate out my personal and professional web identities are linked to another aspect of "branding".

    On Twitter, we are broadcasters servicing an audience who listen to us because we provide entertainment, information, companionship or something else. I'm trying to split out those that want to listen to things about antibiotics (my professional twitter account) and want to listen to my random thoughts about technology, music and life in general (my personal twitter account).

    So in my case it's probably a case more of channeling different thoughts to different followers. One could hope that Radio4 listeners don't listen to Judge Jules, but the BBC managers should expect that anyone can listen in to either.

  3. @mellojonny said I was inspired by David Colquhoun, Ben Goldacre and others to be open about my identity. When I started with mellojonny and abetternhs I knew almost nothing about social media and barely even used them socially. Now I use twitter and the blog as campaigning tools, with only very occasional lapses, because I do think I have found some wonderful people here. I think being open gives me more credibility, helps me to be more aware and respectful of what I say about and to others and importantly, about my patients. I do know some patients follow me, but none so far have mentioned it during consultations. Long before I blogged/tweeted I became upset by supposedly humorous articles written by doctors about patients that annoyed them. I thought that this kind of catharthis was infectious and dangerous and in a way I now think that by being open about my identity it is a reminder that I am a privilaged professional who has a duty to care and advocate for my patients.

  4. @mello jonny also said
    One last thought. After I left a comment on Channel 4 news blog there were some nasty comments about me, my wife and my friends accusing us of being bankrolled professional union representatives. I had to ask Ch4 to remove them because I did not want to waste valuable time on a war of words. Immediately afterwards I added a COI/disclaimer to my blog which you can see here:

    In some ways it's easy for me because I have a salary and do not depend on grants as many of my academic colleagues do. I appreciate that. One last rule I have is not to tweet/ blog when drunk!

  5. @tswy said
    Does participation in social media reveal too much of one’s personality and as a result threaten one’s relationships (professional or otherwise)?

  6. @tswy also said
    Jonathon, agree with the danger of tweeting while drunk, though it is not being drunk per se, it is what is said isn't it? And making it clear drink is involved so allowances can be made (though not for unpleasantness or criminal behaviour/communication including libel or incitement).....maybe allowances should never be made...that is the point of interest....'oh, that is just his personality'

    And another do people see us (through our Twitter personality). I would welcome feedback on this, and obviously I would take into account who is giving me the feedback, rather like a 360 of our online presence...

    Is whow I think I portray myself what others perceive?

    Do I need to be more careful?

    How much is entertainment, propaganda, interesting, a force for good, a force for bad, dull?

    Though when I started I made it clear to myself that it didn't matter if no-one reads what I write, some people might read it and they musn't be harmed.

    What the comments box is there for?

  7. This is a great question that is worthy of much more reflection and discussion. I teach my residents that it's important as a psychotherapist not to have too much of his/her own personality in the room and that's what I try to adhere to in social media spaces (although easy to "slip"). In general, for a psychotherapist particularly, the less personal details revealed, the better for the patient, in my opinion.

  8. Hello Margaret,
    There are at least two questions here:
    1. Does having a public professional identity online suggest that we think it is appropriate to use this as a medium for communication?
    2. If it is acceptable to have a presence online, how much of ourselves should we reveal?

  9. I think it's best if doctors tweet under their clinic/hospital first and with only a first name secondly.

  10. Sometimes people like to sound off about the idiocy of the latest fad from the powers that be eg Government DoH etc. I feel safer doing this with a pseudonym.


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