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Social Media Tips for Doctors

Recently, I was asked for personal advice on using Twitter. There are many articles out there that say we (physicians) don’t know how to properly use social media. Social media can be a very powerful tool in medicine. It can not only help us get medical information out there to our patients, but it can also help us connect with people, colleagues, and organizations to give us more visibility—whether for career advancement, media contacts, or just to get our voices heard. Social Media Basics: These are some of the tips I have come up with for doctors who want to take advantage of the many opportunities social media can offer: 1. Never communicate to patients through social media outlets. It is a set up for disaster and HIPAA violations. 2. Social media can be used for educating patients. Patients can follow you on these pages to get information about your practice and whatever medical information you wish to share. Twitter… 3.  Twitter is useful for growing your professional connections. It can be leveraged so you get known and also connect with other doctors, healthcare information technology people, media, etc. Patients can follow you on Twitter, but it generally is not a useful method of providing patient information because tweets are limited to 140 characters. 4. Choose your followers carefully. Block those who spam or troll you (“trolls” are people who negatively post with the deliberate intent of provoking a reaction). Many people will try to sell you things. Monitor your account because it is not uncommon for it to be hacked. 5. Grow your network. Have a group that...
Using Social Media in Oncology

Using Social Media in Oncology

The increasing popularity and use of social media in medicine offers great opportunities for healthcare professionals and their institutions to interact with patients and colleagues at a pace that has never before been possible. For oncologists, the variety of web-based and mobile technologies that make up social media allow for patient education and authoritative health messaging. Professional development and knowledge sharing, as well as increased direct patient interaction, are other attributes of these technologies. However, while social media offers great potential in healthcare, oncologists must be aware of the possible legal and privacy issues that come along with its use. The Value of Social Media According to Don S. Dizon, MD, FACP, the immediate past-chair and member of the Integrated Media and Technology Committee from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), social media lends itself specifically to oncology for the very reason that the field appears to be evolving quickly. “Determining the social media outlets that present the most benefit to oncologists depends on each practitioner’s needs,” he says (Table 1). Twitter appears to hold significant value for oncologists, explains Dr. Dizon, who was also the lead author of an article published in the Journal of Oncology Practice that provides clinicians with guidance on using social media in oncology. “This is primarily because users have the ability to preselect individuals to follow to suit their own specific needs,” he says. “Users can also create lists to further streamline tweeted content. I have separate lists for people who tweet about their experiences with cancer, cancer centers, news disseminators, and colleagues.” Dr. Dizon adds that one of the best uses...
Making the Most of Social Media

Making the Most of Social Media

Surveys suggest that physicians use social media for personal use at nearly the same rate as the general population. However, when it comes to professional use—namely, the exchange of information and advice with other physicians and patients—physicians tend to be more apprehensive (Figure). With a boom in physician-review websites and an increasingly tech-savvy public, most physicians already have an online reputation that should not be ignored. Managing Online Persona “Many physicians are fearful of using social media because they believe what they say may be misconstrued,” says Enoch Choi, MD, a blogger and social media guru. “Others simply prefer to stay private. Unfortunately, there is plenty of information available online about most physicians, often including personal details, such as a home address or family members’ names.” A recent Pew Internet survey found that 44% of patients research their physicians online. Dr. Choi says physicians should keep this statistic in mind and actively manage their online personas so that the public finds the information they want found. “Flooding the internet with this information through social media engagement can bury personal details,” he says. “It can also limit inaccurate data and negative connotations that can be found among search engine results.” Examining the Social Media Options The various social media platforms (eg, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and blogging) offer a multitude of benefits, but physicians should focus on their own goals and personalities, according to Dr. Choi. “Facebook is useful for word-of-mouth-type sharing with patients because many of them already use it. Facebook is a convenient tool for many reasons, including the fact that many family members and friends are on...

Information Technology as Communication

Much of health information technology (IT) focuses on patient documentation, compliance, and coding. While this is clearly a valuable service, there is still much more that can be garnered from health IT. Medicine needs to take a lesson from mainstream pop culture, be it texting, Twitter, Facebook, or other social networking platforms. The power of communication and connectivity is stronger than ever before, and healthcare providers should capitalize on the technological opportunities that exist today. Communication between physicians and between doctors and patients is suboptimal. Some studies have suggested that concerns over privacy and HIPAA compliance hinder the adoption of web communication, but other factors can play a role, including: Medical liability concerns. Difficulty in explaining nuances of medical information. Lack of websites where safe communication can occur. Fear of information going “viral.” Age of physicians. Time constraints in the office. Increasing Physician-to-Physician Communication While much research has been directed at exploring patterns and trends in doctor–patient communication, an equally important area that warrants study is physician-to-physician communication. The value of doctors collaborating on patient care is immeasurable. Unfortunately, several barriers to online communication between physicians are prevalent. For example, many EMR systems are unable to communicate information with other platforms due to technical issues. Some of these systems also do not allow for customized summaries of evaluations that can be sent easily to referral doctors. There is also no “national” secure health messaging system available to physicians. Lastly, the median age of doctors is still tending toward an older, less computer-literate group. Stepping Forward: Specialist Referral In order to improve communication between physicians, both short- and long-term strategies...
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