There’s little question that more and more physicians are starting to understand the opportunities offered to them by establishing a presence on the web… rooted in such a manner that it layers well onto the ever growing social graph. But so many more simply don’t get it. They might understand the concept, and perhaps some of the more obvious value propositions… but they do not quite grasp how the adoption rates, gravity, depth or pervasiveness of social media is enabling patients, caregivers and the physicians themselves like never before.

Key Opinion Leaders In Medicine and Social MediaThe web has changed … the world is far “smaller”, hyper-connected and more closely integrated than ever before.  The power of pull is replacing the power of push.  You have serendipitous encounters via Twitter awaiting you which will open your eyes to thousands of similarly trained and similarly thoughtful people who WILL teach you something. You will develop professional relationships with people you would have otherwise never met in your entire life.

This week alone I have answered inquires from 12 countries, 16 states and 14 new patients were in my office because of the information they were able to find online.  It’s an honor to serve as a resource for a knowledge thirsty global audience.

There are hundreds of patient communities cropping up online that are discussing YOU, the treatment plans you recommend… and their thoughts about the medications, surgeries, or therapies that you prescribed for them.  They are talking about how they live with their disease and how it has changed their lives and the lives of their loved ones.  Imagine how much we can learn from their insight.

The healthcare discussion is taking place online… sadly most physicians are simply not a part of it.

This is also the era of the end of the Diva Paradox.  You are not the only person who can perform said procedure… and you’re probably not the best.  If you’re not the nicest of sorts… then guess what… your prospective patients are going to know it.  Why… because your patients are talking about you.  You say you’re not interested in a social presence. Guess what, you are already there.  You’re simply not part of the discussion and have no means to address any misinformation or explain why you had a bad day last week to the patient ranting to 1000 followers on Twitter and their entire Facebook network.   Reputations which took years to foster and build can be brought down in a fraction of the time. social media healthcare reputation managementORM or online reputation management is becoming a necessity in our hyper-connected world if you plan to remain viable and active in your chosen field as a healthcare professional.  You didn’t purchase that 1 star rated radio on Amazon.  Well last week a friend didn’t visit a healthcare professional I referred them to because of a plethora of poor online ratings – despite the practitioners overall reputation within the professional community. Another patient I referred to a colleague called to ask for a second choice since the first choice had such a poor web presence — but good online ratings.  Patients want to”meet you” before they meet you.  They want to know more about you.  A well constructed social web presence not only serves to protect your online reputation… it humanizes your practice.

The social web offers medical professionals numerous value propositions.  For personal use you can curate a reader list which presents you with all the information you could possibly want read in one nicely presented page.  You can join private networks such as Doximity which are invaluable when you have an issue you want to discuss, or a case you want to discuss behind a firewall. You have vast stores of information locked within your brain.  Most physicians love to teach. Why limit access to that information to the people who cross the threshold into the confines of  your office?

Teach… and be taught.  Share … and learn.  The social web is perfect for these bidirectional mechanisms.

A few of us have blazed the trails… we’ve made mistakes, pivoted, corrected and found what works — for us and our patients.

Lurk, Listen, and Learn … we’ll be here when you’re ready.

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.

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