Knowledge is power… and content (in proper context) is king. A presence online and in medicine and social media is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how we can educate patients who are actively looking for medical information online
Physicians, Medicine and Social Media
Why am I online blogging, pushing content through my website and even interacting on Facebook, twitter, Google +, Pinterest and many other sites ??? Because my patients are online. They are increasingly utilizing the internet in their quest to:
- self diagnose
- look for “second opinions” from peers and friends
- research their physician
- research a recommended treatment
- research a hospital
- look for the latest research on their disease
Why are patients looking for healthcare information online?
Patients forget more than 50% of what they are told in your office. Furthermore, a lot of what they remember may be wrong. Where are they going to turn when they get home? Face it … people trust the recommendations of peers or friends far above those of any advertisement. People trust much of the information they see on Google. Where are they interacting with those friends? Where are they searching??? Yep — In many instances, online. They are sharing useful information, links, songs, books, recipes, doctors names and medications.. If their doctor isn’t going to spend the time to educate them … they are going to pursue other avenues to improve their health related knowledge base.
Medicine and healthcare are transitioning through massive changes… there are increasingly more regulations and obligations that eat into our clinic time. Reimbursements have dropped — and the response of many has been to increase their patient load, and decrease the time they spend with each patient. That leads to less time with their physician, less learning, more questions, more doubt and sadly, more fear for many. Their solution –> Google— and beyond.
Can you blame them our patients? Certainly not. The root word for doctor is “docere” or to teach — if we do not have the time to teach our patients while they are present in the clinic… we need to be present where they are to “clear the windshield of count”, address their residual questions, address their hesitancy and fears (most likely due to lack of knowledge) and aid them through their medical decision making process. Our patients are making decisions based upon what they read online! We as physicians have a moral obligation to be sure that the information they are receiving is accurate. We as physicians need to be active in producing or curating online medical content to aid our patients.
An Online Presence and Medicine and Social Media
Physicians inaccurately believe that they need to spend hours upon hours coming up with content, they believe there is too much risk involved in “tweeting” or putting a post on Facebook. Most studies show that physician content and social media interactions are perfectly appropriate. You know the rules… follow them. You do not need to be an active writer… you answer the same questions day in and day out. Why not just sit and dictate the answer to those questions and post them online. Don’t want to hire a professional? Don’t. Tumblr, Posterous and others make it simple to set up a site for content in minutes. Still don’t want to create content… fine— then share links to accurate, actionable useful information on Twitter or Facebook. There are many ways to assist our patients. We are physicians… we owe it to our patients to be sure that the information they are reading is of the same quality as the information we would like to read if we ever look in the mirror and see a patient staring back at us.