Thursday, July 22, 2010

Even My Dad's on Facebook - Are You?

Like most people these days, I'm on Facebook. Actually, I maintain a couple of Facebook accounts: one personal and one professional. It's been fun to connect with people from my past and see what they're all up to. And I have to admit, when my brain gets a little fried, it's a quick and simple distraction to see if anyone has posted anything interesting or entertaining. For over a year now, I've tried to convince my parents that they need to get on Facebook so they can reconnect with people from their past. Even so, I was shocked the day I received a friend request from my father.

I'm not one of those people who is afraid to "friend" my parents. They're actually pretty cool and I get along well with them. Plus, I subscribe to the idea that if I'm uncomfortable having my father read it, I shouldn't be posting it on Facebook to begin with. But my dad has only recently become semi-tech savvy. I received my first email from him about a year ago. So getting a Facebook request from him was major. Mom's request came in soon after his and was a little less shocking because she's into gadgets and is one of the few people I actually text.

My point (and I do have one) is this: so many people tell me they don't do Facebook because it's too much work. These people are often people who are looking for jobs. And all I can think of is, if Facebook is too much work and you want to be a coder (and potentially code from home), you are looking into the wrong business.

Let me demonstrate. I have 7 email accounts in varying states of maintenance. One personal, one for my company, one for The Coder Coach, two for clients, and the rest are accounts that were set up for miscellaneous purposes and very few people have those email addresses. I have 2 Facebook accounts, a LinkedIn account, and a Twitter account - although I only tweet professional tidbits because I personally find it a bit ridiculous to let people know what I'm up to at every moment of the day. I also have an instant messenger (IM) account, which one of my clients uses for quick questions.

And that's just "social" media. I am able to VPN into 2 of my clients in order to access their systems, which consist of a logon to the VPN, a logon to their server, a logon to the electronic medical record (EMR), a logon to their coding system, and an encoder. I also have various online memberships (e.g., AHIMA, AAPC) that require passwords to access member-only information. And frequent flier and hotel point programs. I currently maintain over 100 passwords.

In order to maintain all these accounts and passwords, I have my main work laptop, laptops from some of my clients, and an iPhone. I also have a personal laptop, which gets turned on about once every 3 or 4 months because I can't stand to be on the computer when I'm not working. I run dual monitors on my desk so I can look at applications side by side. I have 2 phone numbers, a fax number, and 2 different ways to connect to the internet. In other words, I'm well connected - at least when all the computers are working properly.

I admit - this is extreme. For the typical coder working from home, though, there will be at least a computer and 1 or 2 huge monitors for reading EMR documentation (remember, paperless means no paper - everything is online) and the login credentials to get into a VPN, remote server, and whatever systems you'll be using. When something goes wrong or doesn't work properly, you are the first line of IT defense. You can't just get an IT guy over to your house right away.

So if you want to be a coder and work from home and you aren't on Facebook because it's "too complicated," think about either changing your reason for not being connected, get connected, or find a new career that doesn't involve computers. And try to filter what you tell a potential employer about your issues with technology. As medical records move to an electronic format, you will need to be more tech savvy. After all, if my dad can do it, so can you!