Thursday, 24 September 2009

Instant Messaging: an "elegant solution" for general practices

My family lives in rural NSW, where there is a chronic doctor shortage and it can be difficult to recruit new practitioners. So I really loved the story my mum told me about her most recent trip to the doctor. She wasn't able to get an appointment with her regular doc, and saw a new doctor who hadn't been practicing very long. This doctor wasn't sure about the correct prescription for my Mother's condition. But instead of spending time surfing around medical databases, or knocking on the door of the doctor next door, she sent an Instant Message. Within seconds she had the name of the appropriate medication - from two different doctors.

This practice probably has 5 or 6 doctors and probably hasn't even heard of "Enterprise 2.0" - but by using a free application such as MSN they have been able to dramatically increase the sense of presence and support they can provide this new doctor. She can confidently request assistance from her colleagues while knowing that it won't significantly impact the time required by her patient - or theirs (especially as they can choose not to respond). It would be interesting to know if this will consequently increase the likelihood of this practice retaining their new recruit - which would definitely be a plus for the rural community.

Some might consider Instant Messaging to be a relatively "old" form of social media - but there are still so many ways it can be used innovatively to solve basic problems and increase efficiency. It's great that small businesses are realising this as well.