A recently released white paper titled “The Social Physician” interviews 10 physicians from across the country with varying specialties who have taken the plunge into the world of social media. The white paper found that more doctors than we think are actively engaging in social media to communicate with patients. Author Bunny Ellerin of Ellerin HealthMedia explains that “the emergence of social media has opened doors – not only between marketers and physicians, but also between physicians and their patients.” I encourage you to read Adam Gaub’s SmartBlog post about the report: http://smartblogs.com/socialmedia/2010/12/03/report-examines-why-doctors-take-the-plunge-into-social-media/.
Many doctors use social media to contribute accurate healthcare information online (much needed in my opinion). As we all know, the Internet is filled with inaccurate and misleading health information; so many physicians understand the importance of utilizing social media to bring quality information to healthcare consumers and patients. Doctors are also finding value in social media as a means of attaining medical information from one another. The proliferation of physician-only communities is certainly evidence of that.
Ellerin found the biggest factor hindering doctors from jumping on the social media bandwagon is time. No surprise there. Doctors understand that social media is only valuable to those are able to build a network and establish relationships. It is our job as healthcare marketers to encourage physicians to take the time to cultivate meaning relationships in the social media realm and to understand the realities of what social media engagement will involve for them.
What I found most interesting about Adam’s post were the comments it generated. One of the most powerful was from Howard Luks, MD, a physician I follow on Twitter (@hjluks). Howard has been involved in social media since day one. Here’s part of his comment:
“While the doors are opening and doctors are peering into the room, the vast majority will still roll their eyes at the mere mention of social media. Many will recoil at the thought of the perceived risks, especially since there are very few established guidelines out there. Doctors such as myself, Kevin, Bryan, Jeff Livingston, etc etc have been ‘here’ since the very beginning. We have been carefully navigating the intersection of healthcare and social media and have a very good understanding of the relevant privacy issues and how two play within the appropriate boundaries.
I agree that physicians need to engage the public and help them vet the various info sources available. We should push relevant, EBM , actionable content so that the first page of a google search on a health condition doesn’t show mostly commercially biased content at occurs now.
To those who don’t think engaging in social media will pay off I would counter that it will— as it has for me. I frequently note in my blog what a potential (or real) ROI looks like in my practice.”
For more, check out Adam Gaub’s SmartBlog post http://smartblogs.com/socialmedia/2010/12/03/report-examines-why-doctors-take-the-plunge-into-social-media/.
Post by Dan Dunlop with Stephanie Cohen, UNC-Chapel Hill Student and Jennings Intern