Fall/Winter 2002

I n f o r m a t i o n   t e c h n o l o g y
IT supports NLMA communications strategy during job action
NLMA Website daily unique hits during job action (October 1-17, 2002)
Early in the negotiations process, it became apparent that the NLMA would have to prepare itself to communicate outside its traditional mediums. 


     Early in the negotiations process, it became apparent that the NLMA would have to prepare itself to communicate outside its traditional mediums of postal mail and fax. In a split second, e-mail would become the only medium of disseminating high-volume, time-sensitive information to members detached from their clinics; and the Internet would become the main source of detailed information for members, media and patients. 
     In the spring and summer of 2002, the NLMA revamped its web site, launched a secure site dedicated to negotiations issues, and designed a broader membership database. The revamped public site now featured a media section devoted to the unique requirements of this audience (archived news releases, health care backgrounders, speeches, bios, a medical glossary, member statistics, and NLMA graphics and photos). The new negotiations site contained the NLMA's submission to government, an online discussion forum, and instructions on how to carry out job action without endangering critical patient care. The new database permitted the storage of comprehensive member contact information in an easily filtered and exportable format. 
     With the start of job action on October 1, the main web site logged 1,278 unique visits! In the following days, hits averaged between 400 on weekends to over 800 hits on weekdays. Two additional "spikes" were also recorded: one when the media reported that negotiations had broken off following a weekend marathon bargaining session; and, again when it was announced binding arbitration had been accepted by both sides. The negotiations site recorded similar traffic patterns, with October 1 logging 432 unique hits and daily totals ranging between 242 and 346. 
     Other provincial medical associations and societies, along with the CMA, visited our site daily to monitor events as they unfolded and to receive information not filtered through media outlets. Media regularly visited the media section, allowing NLMA communications staff to deal directly with the media only on more important issues. And members visited the secure site to get an update on negotiations and answers to their questions on job action execution. 
     A major portion of traffic to the public site was driven by national media attention. Online news services including cbc.ca, ctvnews.ca, globeandmail.com, Yahoo! News, and vocm.com all provided direct links to nlma.nf.ca as they ran articles almost daily on our job action and its effects on the provincial health care system. 
     Communicating directly with our membership through postal mail and fax went out the window. Many physicians were no longer in their offices. E-mail immediately became the distribution method of choice. Following a drive to secure addresses, our database grew from a mere 150 addresses to almost 600! The new membership database allowed us to easily mass e-mail the majority on our practicing members. 
     While not an all-inclusive method, when used in conjunction with our web sites, it allowed a small contingent of NLMA staff to maintain timely communications during a critical and unique time in the association's history. In fact, the NLMA will continue to use e-mail as an effective and efficient method of communications. If you're not yet receiving e-mail from us, forward your address to nlma@nlma.nf.ca

     J. David Mitchell is Manager of Operations and Infomatics with the NLMA.


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Fall/Winter 2002
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Nexus is published quarterly for Newfoundland and Labrador's physicians. It is a forum for the exchange of views, ideas and information for members.