Hanging Out with 100 others: 5 tips for Bringing Health Professionals Together with Google Hangouts

December 21, 2011
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Google-plus-hangout-for-business

One of the challenges of being a Pediatrician and working in a state the size of New York (53,000 sq miles in area, over 300 miles from north to south) is the inability to easily meet colleagues who live further a field to share ideas. I am involved with the New York State Chapter of the Society for Adolescent Medicine (NY SAHM).

 

We meet quarterly for networking and education purposes; vital for furthering the health and well being of adolescents living in the US. For logistics sake these meetings tend to happen in Manhattan during the week, making it almost impossible for those up state to attend. In our most recent meeting we overcame this challenge and brought together almost 100 folk interested in Adolescent health care by way of a new technology; the Google+ Hangout.

A Google+ Hangout enables 10 Google+ accounts to connect. ‘Hangout with extras’ allows for the showing and sharing of PowerPoint presentations or other documents. It seemed to be the answer to our conundrum, but I was soon to learn that it would take meticulous planning.

On December 6th 2011 almost 100 Adolescent Health Care Providers hooked up in a Google+ Hangout. Presenters from Manhattan and Rochester, NY (300 miles away) delivered stellar lectures on “Improving access to healthcare for GBLTQ youth”. Questions and comments on the topic were taken from three different locations; Manhattan, Rochester and Buffalo. A business meeting was shared from the Manhattan location as well as the presentation of our regional chapter award. In addition all three locations watched each other munch on the NY staple diet of ordered-in pizza, washed down with a good glass of red.

We marveled in the fact that we had achieved our challenge; we had connected the state together. It wasn’t entirely plain sailing. The odd frozen screen here and sound issue there, not to mention the anxiety of hoping it would or could work. But I came away from the evening intent on doing this again. I had learnt so much and the second time around would be even better. What struck me more was how we, as healthcare professionals, can use this technology even further afield than the confines of the state or even the country. Suddenly the vast world of global medicine has become smaller; we don’t necessarily need to travel to find out what, why and how other states, countries or continents are managing adolescent healthcare.

So, if you are inspired to have a Google+ Hangout for the good of the Nation or perhaps just a High School reunion, here are my 5 top tips for making it happen (almost) glitch free:

1. At least a day before you’re due to Hangout, make sure each participant has a Gmail account and they have signed-up for a Google+ account (you can do that here)

2. Assign one leader of the Hangout (especially if this is for a big meeting), and make that clear to all – that person should send the invitation, to which the others respond

3. If you plan to share a document or PowerPoint presentation, upload it to Google Docs beforehand (& check the format has stayed the same)

4. If this is for a meeting, make sure you have a ‘test’ Hangout a few days before the real thing

5. On the day of the Hangout, the ‘leader’ must start the Hangout and invite members.

For more tips and help on hanging out successfully, check out this page of help, on Google+.

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Happy hanging out!