In a recent article by David Shaywitz, he describes 4 reasons why physicians are concerned about the increase in popularity of social media and online search. The information used in the article was gathered from a group of physicians attending a breakout session during a medical conference.
After reading these concerns it occurred to me, that there is a significant gap (lack of understanding) on the part of the medical community surrounding the incredible BENEFITS associated with online search and social media. Which is typically the basis for unfounded fear…
The following 4 central themes emerged:
Concern #1 Patients Receiving Bad Information
Many physicians described the challenges of dealing with patients who had retrieved wrong or incomplete information from the internet. This turns out to be a remarkably common problem; doctors reported spending a lot of time undoing bad information.
Solution: Evaluate. Embrace. Engage.
Become part of the discussion. Create a viable online presence with up to date accurate information. Encourage patients to visit your Virtual Medical Community for important information related to their diagnosis.
Concern #2 Patients Transmitting Bad Information
Many doctors in the audience were also visibly troubled by the ease with which patients could share misleading information, whether about medicine or the doctors themselves.
Solution: Evaluate. Embrace.
Control your online reputation. Encourage patients to share their positive experiences online. Contact those patients who were frustrated and try to make it right. See if you can get the post removed. Avoid a victim mentality.
Concern #3 Physicians Receiving Information Badly
While some senior physicians worried that young doctors might start to rely on tweets rather than peer-reviewed articles, it seemed that the most significant concern raised was the impact that the internet culture was having on the practice of medicine.
Solution: Evaluate. Embrace. Engage.
Concern #4 Physicians Transmitting Information Badly
The ability afforded by social media to share information rapidly and broadly was another source of concern. Many senior physicians worried young doctors might use social media in unprofessional ways sharing things they shouldnt, saying things they shouldnt potentially placing themselves and their institutions at risk.
Solution: Get over it. This is not to trivialize the concern but to put it in a more realistic light. Every industry is going through this. Small groups of doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, stock brokers etc. have been making bad choices since the dawn of humanity. There is no way to stop it. We must all focus on the things we can control.
What we can do is EMBRACE the fact that online search and social media are powerful mediums and they are here to stay. So the real multi-billion dollar question is what do we do about it.?
According to David Shaywitz:
I reject the view that the internet and social media are somehow degrading the culture of medicine, or causing it to change for the worse. Instead, I see emerging modalities as offering the profession an urgently needed chance to radically update its approach, and interact with patients, data, and each other in important new ways. Care can evolve from episodic to continuous, and physicians, increasingly accountable, will appreciate the opportunity to partner with patients who are informed, empowered, and engaged.
Rather than isolating doctors, the new technology promises to be fundamentally enabling, allowing doctors to redefine and strengthen their relationships with patients and with colleagues. The result: a new sense of connection and meaning.
Medicine could be fun again.
I am not a Doctor. But that sounds like great advice to me. To learn how your practice can capitalize on the shifting behavior of the social patient contact….