I have certainly done my share of whining and complaining about the ACCME, but I will give them credit for this: every time I have emailed a question to their awkwardly named email@example.com “help desk” email address, I have gotten a response. Most of the time the response has been quite helpful and sometimes, much more thorough and detailed than expected. The downside is that I always have to wait a minimum of one day for a response, usually two days, sometimes longer. Usually the lag-time doesn’t matter, but sometimes…man, it would be helpful to get a quick response.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite appreciative that the ACCME even has this service available. I have used it on several occasions and I don’t mean to criticize (psst…hey, Derek? When people say things like “I don’t mean to criticize…”, that usually means they’re criticizing but don’t want to get in trouble for it. Let’s just call a spade a spade, OK?). I just think that with all the communication options now available via social media, there are strategies the ACCME could employ to supplement the standard “you email me, I’ll email you” Q&A process.
Another reason I believe the ACCME needs to come up with a social media strategy stems from a recent conversation I had with a CME colleague. During our conversation (I hate to admit this, but I can’t remember the specifics of the conversation. I’m getting old.), a question came up about whether something was in compliance. I don’t remember the specifics, but I do remember it went something like this:
“Yeah, that’s fine. You wouldn’t be out of compliance.”
“Really? Can you show me where it says that on the ACCME’s website?”
“I don’t think it says specifically on their website. I emailed them a question about it and that’s what they told me.”
“Well, how am I supposed to know that?”
This has happened to me on a number of occasions, where I’ve told someone something or been told something by them that came from direct communication with the ACCME. Again, it’s great that they are so willing to directly communicate, but shouldn’t all providers be privy to the same information? I think social media can go a long way towards solving that problem.
So, I thought about it a little bit, and came up with what I would suggest as the ACCME’s social media strategy. Nobody asked me to do this. Likely, nobody cares, but I did it anyway. My goal was to come up with a simple, easy to implement strategy that wasn’t too overwhelming in scope. In the end, I came up with three tools I thought would be most beneficial for the ACCME to start with.
Turn on the commenting option for the videos.
I applaud the ACCME for the work they have done with the Education and Training section of their website. It is obvious that a lot of time and energy has gone in to it and it has become a great resource for CME providers. The one suggestion I would make, and it seems like a pretty simple one, is to allow comments on the many webcast videos that are available.
By doing that one simple thing, you can exponentially increase the potential educational value of those videos. Not only could you learn from the videos, but you have the possibility of asynchronous learning via interaction in the comments. I think it would be a tremendously valuable learning experience to be able to watch one of those videos, ask a question in the comments section, and get feedback from the speaker, an ACCME representative, and/or my peers. And it wouldn’t just be valuable to the one who asked the question, but to anyone else who comes along and reads through the comments.
FYI – I guess a comments section would technically be considered a Web 2.0 tool rather than social media. I still get a little confused on the differences between the two. Whatever.
As much as I would love to see the ACCME have the type of Twitter account where I could say, “Hey @accme, would Company X be considered a commercial interest?”, I don’t think that’s realistic. Here are three ways I think the ACCME could use Twitter:
1. To make the same general announcements that are usually sent out via bulk e-mail. Boring, yes, but effective and also helps increase transparency.
2. During the Town Hall teleconferences. It would be a great way for participants to ask questions and for unanswered questions to be archived.
3. I love this idea the most: a scheduled Twitter chat with an ACCME rep every time a Call for Comment is issued. How great would that be to be able to read the Call, have real-time communication between the ACCME and the CME community about the topic(s), then write your response? Whenever a Call for Comment is issued, I always find that I have a bunch of questions about it and my response is a bit tarnished by not knowing the answers. This type of two-way communication with a mass audience is only possible with a tool like Twitter and it would be of tremendous value to the CME community.
Of the three tools I’ve mentioned, I think that an ACCME LinkedIn group might have the highest potential value…and might be the least likely to happen, at least in the format I envision.
An ACCME group in LinkedIn would be a wonderful complement to the current process of emailing (or calling) the ACCME whenever a question arises. ACCME group members would be able to ask their question on LinkedIn and then receive an answer from the ACCME within a reasonable time frame. The beauty of using LinkedIn is that everyone who is part of the group would be able to read the exchange, ask follow-up questions, and learn. It keeps everyone on the same level and alleviates the problem of certain providers getting information that is not available to others, simply because they never asked the question.
In time, the LinkedIn group would become a Q&A archive – a nice resource for providers and hopefully a time saver for the ACCME, as it would help avoid repetitive questions. I acknowledge that there are sometimes questions that need to be asked of the ACCME that the questioner doesn’t want made public. In those cases, emailing or calling the ACCME would still be the preferred option. However, I think there are still lessons to be learned from those examples. I would suggest the ACCME take those privately asked questions, remove the identifying details (when possible), and post them in the LinkedIn group along with their response. I would absolutely participate in a group like this and would love to see it.
So that’s my theoretical social media strategy for the ACCME. I would love to hear your thoughts about it, what you think would work, what wouldn’t work, or things I missed. Maybe someday we’ll get to see some of this in action.