Thursday Apr 19, 2012

I'm Still Listening; So What Do You Have to Say?

Last fall the AAFP launched three new tools to help Academy leaders better communicate with members: the AAFP Leader Voices blog, the AAFP President Facebook page and the AAFPPrez Twitter account.

The idea was simple:

  • Use Facebook and Twitter to communicate what the Academy is doing on your behalf -- including real-time updates of our lobbying efforts in Washington and meetings with large health plans -- and to respond to your comments or questions.
  • Use the blog to communicate more detailed information about those activities and, again, to respond to your comments or questions.

So how are we doing?

A little more than half way through my term, I have tweeted 194 times in 221 days from 11 states; Washington, D.C.; and Canada from meetings with legislators, CMS, the AMA, AAFP chapters and others.

One of my goals was to reach 1,000 Twitter followers. With about 180 days to go, we're half way there. I may not make it, but the AAFPPrez account will transition to President-elect Jeff Cain, M.D., when he takes office in October. I hope the numbers of those following the three new social media platforms will continue to grow under successive presidents. The connections we make and the feedback we receive from you can help make us more nimble in responding to issues.

(By the way, Dr. Cain recently joined the twitterverse, and you can start getting to know him by following @JeffreyCainMD.)

The AAFP President Facebook page has had 111 posts and 64 comments in seven months. I read all your comments and do my best to respond in a timely manner. The same is true for the AAFP Leader Voices blog. The last four blog entries have received a total of 30 comments, including a lively discussion about scope of practice and the future of family medicine training.

In the past few months, the blog has expanded to include input from other Board members, and you will be hearing from more of us in the coming weeks. The Board is a diverse group of family physicians with representation from students, residents, new physicians, solo doctors, large practice physicians, urban and rural doctors, and academic physicians from all parts of the country.

Some of us are brand new to social media. When my term started, Skype wasn't even on my radar, but I now have used the technology to conduct a video conference call with our Family Medicine Interest Group coordinators  and more recently to install the president of the Uniformed Services AFP (more on that in my next blog) who is serving the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

I also had the privilege of recently appearing on the Family Medicine Rocks podcast  with Mike Sevilla, M.D., for a discussion about the AMA/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) and the AAFP's Primary Care Valuation Task Force. That one-hour interview provided listeners with a more intimate, detailed discussion than what I could provide in my own message to members That podcast drew more live listeners and downloads than any in the five-year history of Mike's show, which demonstrates there is a strong social media community in family medicine, and it's continuing to grow.

Mike, who I've dubbed the king of family medicine social media, will be the presenter in a session about social media during the Annual Leadership Forum  May 3-5 in Kansas City, Mo. I've learned a lot in the past seven months, but I'm ready to learn more.

How are you using social media to connect to your patients and colleagues?

Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., of Spokane, Wash., is president of the AAFP.

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Editor's Note: In addition to the AAFP Leader Voices blog and the AAFP President Facebook and Twitter accounts, you can connect with the Academy through many other social media accounts.

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