What Are Your Healthcare and Social Media Goals

Centrifugal force (from Latin centrum, meaning “center“, and fugere, meaning “to flee”) represents the effects of inertia that arise in connection with rotation and which are experienced as an outward force away from the center of rotation

Centripetal force (from Latin centrum “center” and petere “to seek”[1]) is a force that makes a body follow a curved path: it is always directed orthogonal to the velocity of the body, toward the instantaneous center of curvature of the path. In simple terms, centripetal force is defined as a force which keeps a body moving with a uniform speed along a circular path and is directed along the radius towards the centre

Your Healthcare and Social Media Presence

Why are you establishing an online presence for your medical practice?

What do you seek to gain from entering the intersection of digital media and healthcare?

Centrifugal versus centripetal forces or drivers and your endeavors in healthcare and social media… Many healthcare professionals  are starting to engage on the healthcare social media stage — from an overall global healthcare perspective, that is likely a good thing. Healthcare professionals are starting to recognize that digital media has become the chosen mechanism or mode of communications and  information gathering for more than 1 billion people across the globe. But one has to wonder, what is the underlying force or driver that is pushing these healthcare professionals to engage???

Are these doctors and other healthcare professionals engaging simply as part of an overall strategic inbound marketing initiatives? If so, are you producing meaningful or actionable content that a person would find useful when researching their disease process? Or are you simply putting up a post with a number of keywords in order to aim for a conversion and a phone call? This would be a perfect example of a centripetal effort — which is primarily self-serving, yet useful as an inbound marketing initiative. Its usefulness to the online healthcare community as a whole is minimal, yet, if you are providing a beneficial service to your patients in your office, then you are helping a small minority of people who are looking for help.  But that begs the question that arises frequently – – – do physicians have an obligation to produce meaningful, actionable content to improve the overall understanding of disease processes, and do they have an obligation to place that content on a medical practice website for everyone to benefit?

Many of us who are engaging in the healthcare social media scene currently are doing so for almost purely altruistic reasons. Our actions, or endeavors, are centrifugal in nature. Our efforts extend from the center, which is us, and are meant for a global audience thirsty for healthcare knowledge, to learn from our experience, and to have a better understanding of their healthcare related issue.  

Our healthcare system is a convoluted mess. Being sick is scary. There are millions upon millions of people across the globe who are suffering, who are sick, or who are in pain —  and they do not know which way to turn. Every day more and more of them are showing up online and seeking information. Unfortunately, the majority of the information that they are served has an underlying centripetal driver and is commercialized, biased, and nearly useless. These people deserve a level playing field. They deserve access to meaningful, actionable information that can help them learn more about their disease and the options for treatment available. They deserve to be served information from Google which has an underlying centrifugal driver and proves to be truly useful.

One day I’m going to wake up and look in the mirror and see a patient looking back at me. As a physician I am going to know, hopefully, exactly what my next steps are. As someone who actively participates in the healthcare and social media scene,  I have an overwhelming desire to help everyone navigate our convoluted healthcare system.  I have a desire to help you learn how to curate useful or meaningful information, learn how to use mobile health platforms, or patient driven online communities – – – all in an effort to improve your knowledge base,  ease some of your fears, and act as a guide through the whole process.

In the end, centrifugal drivers, or efforts that extend from the center,  to educate everyone are far more beneficial.



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Disclaimer:  this information is for your education and should not be considered medical advice regarding diagnosis or treatment recommendations. Some links on this page may be affiliate links. Read the full disclaimer.

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About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr. Howard Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles – all geared to improve your quality of life.

5 comments on “Healthcare and Social Media : Centrifugal versus Centripetal Drivers

  • Great analogy, Howard. The Mandelbrot-like patterns we create are all interwoven online and off. You should be at SXSW weaving a few of your own. There are a limited number of poet-docs like yourself. :)


    • you are too kind Carmen. I want to get all my physcian colleagues to engage — or at least produce content. They need to understand that Centrifugal efforts can still be useful from a marketing perspective (their self-declared #1 driver for even thinking about a digital presence).

  • Most of the efforts I’m familiar with in this area stem from, “My staff went to a presentation and they talked about the importance of social media.”

    The “strategic thinking” seems to revolve around novelty and “maybe this will pick up a patient or two” or “maybe we can save some time in answering questions.”

    Practice managers have enough to do already, so a low-level staffer piddles around for awhile, and then the effort atrophies and disappears.

    Your motives are distinctly different.

    [Hat tip.]

    • Agree!… And I might add that I have a similar experience with some of my “clients” too. Appreciate the visit and {Hat tip} :-) !

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