“Email has more of a professional connotation to it than a Facebook message,” Mr. Moore says. “Even if I work with somebody, even if I’m Facebook friends with somebody and that person is one door away from me, if it is a work conversation I am going to send them an email.”
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Explore This IssueJune 2016
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Formality is the delineation between social media and what Mr. Moore half-jokingly calls “professional media.” And while in some ways, technology gaps can often be a generational difference, Mr. Moore doesn’t see email usage through that prism—certainly not when he’s interacting with the young adults in his classes. “Students know … they could find me on social media,” he says. “There’s nothing preventing them, but still they reach out to me via email, and I communicate with them via email.”
That said, a generation gap does exist that can cause older physicians not to embrace newer technologies that could be effective alternatives to email, says Howard Landa, chief medical information officer of the Alameda Health System in Oakland and vice chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems in Lake Almanor, Calif. Many communication tools—Shortmail, Fridge, Apple Mail—were discontinued, wrapped into larger technologies or never became mainstream enough to be worthwhile. So the idea that some technologies won’t catch on discourages some from using anything but email.
“The younger we are, the easier the changes are, and the more receptive we are to change,” Mr. Landa says. “We have seen a lot of flash-in-the-pan technology, snake oil, new ideas that go crazy for [a while]. They get to the top in the hype cycle; they drop to the bottom of the pit in the depression, and then they never move.
“With the older physicians, I think there is a reluctance to try something just because it’s new; whereas, with the younger docs there is a new technology every week that I want to try because I am willing to go through 20 of them before I find one that works. They have more energy and are more open to it.”
Security & Privacy
But it’s not just the age divide between newer and veteran rheumatologists, says Dr. Venuturupalli.
“No, I don’t think that’s all it is,” he says. “There are some real concerns about using these technologies too much and not thinking through the implications of the security and privacy issues around them.”