I still feel that communication is one of the most important changes we need to make in the College in the next 5 years. But I no longer think it’s optional. I think that the survival of the College depends on it.
We definitely still need to improve transparency—the members know a bit more than they did a year ago about internal decisionmaking, but not much more. We could use more first-person narrative from leaders (executive leadership, board leadership, and from divisional VP’s themselves), which would really help transmit the value proposition of membership (to me, the largest value proposition comes from Ms. Wooster’s division, and I think our members should be getting loads more information about how their very livelihood is being saved from attack every year). And when contentious issues come up, like guns and abortion, they need to be presented to the membership with a great deal of context (and rapidly so), especially when such large percentages of our membership feel that the people on the other side of the issue are irredeemably and horribly wrong.
ACEP can’t continue to be the cudgel that separates us from each other. It has to be the opposite. To that end, we need to rapidly create a digital home which unites us all. We need to design a full-stack app, website, and messaging service which serves up all of the things we can do best. Why are we all logging in to Facebook so often? Because that’s where open discussions about the specialty we care so much about are happening. They should be happening on our platform. Want to see what the best minds in EM think about a clinical issue? No one turns to the current and unusable ACEP web site, but they should be going to our constantly updated and easy-to-navigate one. Want to have a tailored list of things being done by our organization in DC and in your state house? The messaging should be delivered to your phone. Want to reach out to see who’s working the Chicago VA tonight because your uncle just checked in? You shouldn’t have to broadcast the request to Zuckerberg first. And when the College needs to find out how you all feel about an important issue, we should get a poll delivered to our ipad that takes 20 seconds to complete, and that demonstrates immediately why it’s so important to fill out. Have a state-level issue? Thumb a message to your Chapter leadership in 2 clicks.
What should our digital home not do? Ever? Squeeze the member for money. Sure, you can buy ACEP products on the site, but you should have to go looking for that. The platform can’t seem like the sales arm of the College. And we can’t, ever, and I mean never, sell member data. This thing, which if we do right, can unify the College, will collapse if the users see it as pure ACEP revenue generation, or if they start getting spam to their email box or telephone from the number they give us. But if we do it right, it’s going to be the thing that holds us together.
And holding together seems more difficult every year. As we are driven apart politically, and our business model gives us less of a feeling of agency than ever, people should be flocking to organized EM—after all, who better to commiserate and understand you than your brothers and sisters getting NP clinic-carpetbombed, hospitalist-blocked, patient-excoriated, and overdosed on post-night-shift-Monster. But they’re not flocking, they’re leaving, and some of us feel so alone and alienated that it kills us. We can’t have that, not ever. Improving our place as the most welcoming and broad community in EM needs to be a core strategic issue going forward.