* * Anonymous Doc

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I have a patient on Facebook.

I mean, I'm sure I have a bunch of patients on Facebook, but I mean here, in the hospital, I have a patient who brought her computer, and she got onto the hospital's wireless network, and she's on Facebook.

Over in the call room, we're all on Facebook. I'll check a couple of times a day, one of my interns seems to be on the entire day, on her iPhone, whenever she's not, you know, saving people from death.

There's a nurse who's definitely on Facebook, at the computer terminal, when she's not playing one of those games with colored balls that you have to eliminate color by color.

And a whole bunch of the residents and fellows I've worked with have sent me Facebook friend requests, so I know they're on Facebook.

So how far away is a future where Facebook has replaced all current medical communication. You're in your room, and you start to feel funny, why page the nurse? You page the nurse, it takes time for the nurse to respond. Just update your status. I'll see it, the nurse will see it, the intern will see it... even if we're not your Facebook friend, I'm sure we have friends in common, or friends of friends-- what, they say everyone's no more than six degrees separated, right? So everyone can comment on your status and I'm sure soon enough I'll see it on my screen.

So I find out you're not feeling quite right, and I can send a Facebook message to the nurse, reminding her to check on you-- easier than picking up the phone, and if the nurse is away from the nurse's station I know she'll at least be carrying around her iPhone and checking Facebook-- so it's a faster way to get in touch.

And why have to call a consult, and then circle back with the fellow, and make six phone calls to get everyone on the same page? I can just update my status with my patient's status, and let everyone else comment on it. Maybe there's another doctor, not involved with the case, who has something useful to add. We'd never know without Facebook.

And maybe we don't want to schedule that MRI quite yet, because the MRI technician is pretty busy with his Farm and some Zombie Attacks, and we should probably wait until all of that slows down before we wheel the patient in for a test.

And why wait for the scan results to be read by Radiology, anyway? Just post the picture on Facebook, we'll all see it, thumbs-up if it looks clean, otherwise we can just tag all the notable spots on the photo.

And don't worry about HIPAA, everyone can just set their own privacy settings, it's no problem at all.

I think this is a future that's not too far away.

Plus, I totally want my patients to see my vacation photos.


  1. This is so hilariously funny because it is SO TRUE. My wife and I have had words about technology and "being a real person". I love the tech toys and the social connections and the whole bit, but I have also learned recently that I need to disconnect, pull back just a little bit, and assess what parts of this whole universe I really do enjoy and NEED, versus what is just constant white noise.
    Thanks very much for a funny, but insightful, post!

  2. This is the funniest thing I've read this week!

  3. But I searched for "Anonymous MD" on Facebook and you weren't on there!

  4. @Noumenon...I saw Anonymous Doc on FB. But nothing is really there. I assumed he meant under his real identity.

  5. While I'm sure Facebook specifically won't become the de facto standard for this, I can definitely forsee a Facebook-like closed-circuit application to allow specifically this. Probably with options for patients to sync their status with Facebook and Twitter.