Farris Timimi, M.D, Discusses the Role and Use of Social Media in Healthcare
In the video below, Dr. Timimi shares that meeting the needs of today’s patient requires adjusting to the new standard of physician-patient relationship. “I think what we’re all seeing is a change in the relationship between patients and providers. The typical compact that we knew 20 years ago, where the provider guided therapy on their own, I think all of us are aware that’s no longer the case. There’s more and more interest in a shared process. These tools help us reach so many people and make that transition more of a reality. We can reach people everywhere and bring shared interactions to all parts of our practice. That’s powerful!”
Today there is a lot of interest in encouraging physicians to have an online presence to improve patient engagement, awareness, and ease communication. As our society becomes increasingly tech-savvy and embracing of social media platforms, so does the expectation that our physicians will adopt an online presence and communicate with patients using online tools.
In the blog post, “Physicians Should be Part of the Online Social Media Discussion,” Howard J. Luks, M.D., discusses the importance of physician online engagement for the benefit of building their image, the image of their institution, and creating an easily accessible space in which patients may obtain necessary health care information. In the past, Dr. Luks has written blog posts on the topic attributing the lack of physician presence online to anxiety that doing so would “cross over a professional/personal line that physicians would like to draw as a fairly bright line.” Nonetheless, Dr. Luks states that “Healthcare and social media, and the power it grants to a worldwide audience means that meeting the needs of today’s patient requires adjusting to the new standard of physician-patient relationship.” He also states that by not establishing a deep digital presence, and by not engaging their audience, physicians are losing out on their ability to:
- Foster their relevance;
- Extend their knowledge and educate those far beyond the four walls of their practice;
- Humanize their practice;
- Connect with people who insist on the ability to digitally engage with their doctors;
- Enable mechanisms to improve information transfer, education, compliance and adherence to chronic disease or post-surgical protocols.;
- Enable an efficient office practice enhanced by simple web platforms and practice generated content.
Dr. Farris Timimi, the recently named Chair of the Advisory Board of the Mayo Clinic Center For Social Media, has said that social media “isn’t an addition to your job, [but] part of your job.” Beyond helping a physician engage current patients, can a social media presence help to grow a practice? The answer is “Yes.” As Dr. Luks points out, “12 to 15% of patients who enter my office mention the Internet, Facebook, or my website as the reason why they are present in my office.” Persuasion enough? To be fair, Dr. Luks was an early adopter of social media and has a well-established online presence, superior to that of the average physician. But his experience does show the promise of this move to online engagement – and certainly demonstrates the receptiveness on the part of the patient.
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(Post written by Dan Dunlop with Charles Ramsey. Charles is a healthcare marketing intern at Jennings and a student at Wake Forest University. He’s learning a lot about healthcare this summer as he researches topics for blog posts.)