There's a research paper making the rounds in the press and on social media, about Facebook usage in an emergency department.
It's called, "Online Social Network Use by Health Care Providers in a High Traffic Patient Care Environment" by Erik Black et al, and it's in JMIR, a popular informatics journal that I thought had a reputation for quality. I say this, because the methods were poorly described and the conclusions are grossly misleading.
Health policy wonks like Sarah Kliff made the following conclusion:
For every hour emergency department workers use a computer, they spend an average of 12 minutes on Facebook — and that time on the site actually goes up as the department becomes busier.
Researchers at the University of Florida monitored the workstations of 68 emergency department workstations for just over two weeks. They couldn’t see who was using each work station — it could have been a doctor, a nurse or another health-care worker — but they could see what they were looking at on the computer.
Over the 15-day period, the staff cumulatively visited 9,369 Facebook pages, spending an average of one of every five minutes of computer use on the site. Usage was much higher overnight. During the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, emergency department employees spent an average of 19.8 minutes per hour on Facebook. During the day, it came down to a much smaller 4.3 minutes.It's just one academic ED, in Florida, over 15 days, more than three years ago - so, hardly representative of the specialty . And there's no way to tell if the usage is from doctors or nurses or techs or consultants from upstairs. And didn't we all look at FB more, back in 2009-2010, when this study was conducted?
But take a look at what the study results actually say:
In a 15-day period, health care workers spent an accumulated 4349 minutes (72.5 hours) browsing Facebook on workstations in one ED. ED staff cumulatively visited 9369 Facebook pages and spent, on average, 12.0 minutes per hour browsing Facebook.This is not "using Facebook for 12 minutes per computer per hour" as Klift and others concluded. This is "using Facebook for 12 minutes per hour" total, across all of this large ED's staff and sixty-eight workstations.
If you broke usage down by computer, it's around 11 seconds per hour - which makes the author's opinion that FB usage is "unacceptably high" well, unacceptable.
Thanks to Jonathan Handler and the ACEP Informatics Section listserv for pointing out this article, and their analysis. UPDATE: Dr. Handler has a blog post on this topic up now, as well.