It’s 2015. Social Media surrounds every aspect of our lives and most doctors do not take advantage of it. It is important for doctors to begin to embrace the power of social media and use it help themselves and their patients. Facebook boasts more than a billion users, Twitter more than 120 million, and up to 80% of patients go online for health information. Engaging in the online conversation and using the tools of social media can enhance the good that can be done, for patients, for doctors, and for the profession at large.
There are five distinct benefits to considering using social media. These include:
Anything Goes: Because there are so little current opportunities for health care social media, those who pioneer and blaze the trail for others have the chance to set the stage for those who follow. Doctors can set the rules for themselves in online social media ventures.
Direct Contact: What patients really want to read is what their doctor says, not press releases, articles from barely credible sources, or pseudo-science from advertisers. As a doctor, your patients will listen to you and value your thoughts and opinions over those who are less than suitable.
Therapy Factor: Morale amongst caregivers is low, and sinking lower. Social media offers doctors a chance to reflect about what is still so good about their work. Writing, or Tweeting, or blogging, allows a doctor to consider the patient who actually lost the weight, or the family who sent you a Thank You note for having had the courage to discuss end-of-life care. The social aspect of social media connects doctors with colleagues across the world.
Become a Better Doctor: The pace of change in health care is increasing. In the course of three weeks in late 2013, two paradigms of cardiovascular medicine were upended. Social media covered the story in real time, while print journal coverage came later. Social media delivers an opportunity for discussion to a doctor’s smartphone or tablet, and staying current and informed has never been more important. Twitter allows easy curation of content from trusted sources as it comes available.
Leveling the Playing Field: The blog and Twitter feed of stage IV breast cancer patient Lisa Adams has stirred the mainstream of journalism and medicine. When writers Bill and Emma Keller, of the NY Times and the Guardian, respectively, discussed Ms. Adams poignant posts, and a torrent of criticism and conversation followed. The vastness of the response, from the New Yorker, Wired, NPR, Atlantic, The Nation, the American College of Oncology and many more outlets, removed any doubt that social media has transformed the sphere of influence.
Overall, social media gives regular doctors a voice, a chance to influence and affect change in society at large.
Learn more about social media usage and how you can take advantage of all of its opportunities here: http://medcitynews.com/2014/02/doctors-social-media-time-embrace-change/