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Social Media – A Savior For Doctors

Times have surely changed. It is no longer a time now when doctors spend their time attending to their patients at specific hours. Scientific advancements have enabled everyone, especially doctors to attend to the patient’s qualms at any given hour. If your question is whether doctors these days are technophobes? Well, the answer can be said as a definite NO.

Social media has made doctors to move away from the stereotypical impression that a patient’s privacy can be invaded. Instead, it has enabled them to send out health text messages to patients, track disease trends on Twitter, identify medical problems on Facebook pages and communicate with patients through email.

Physicians these days realize that patients prefer more than just a 15-minute office visit and callback at the end of the day.

Kansas City pediatrician Natasha Burgert shares similar views saying, “These tools are embedded in my work day. This is something I do in between checkups. It’s much easier for me to shoot you an email and show you a blog post than it is to phone you back. That’s what old-school physicians are going to be doing, spending an hour at the end of the day.’

Dr. Burgert also makes it a point to return her patients’ phone calls, conveys tips on her blog, Facebook and Twitter pages relating to child-rearing.

She also has stated that such a medium ensures that the doctor and the patient stay connected at times when a patient requires constant medical attention without actually being present around them.

Another person from the medical fraternity to join in the bandwagon of the social media users has been Dr. Steven Nissen. Dr. Nissen in his 60’s, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, must be noted, for he has only recently started to experiment in e-technology. He recently went live on Twitter.

Dr. Nissen has said that he found the whole experience of going live on a Twitter chat as “in some ways maybe a little exhilarating.” He also mentioned, “This was an opportunity to use a different communication channel to find an audience to talk about heart health. The downside is that we dumb it down. It’s very challenging for physicians, primarily because the messages that we have are not conducive to 14 characters. If you ask me a question, you’re likely to get a five-minute answer.” He discussed issues such as heart failure and cholesterol problems. Dr. Nissen has expressed his views on using the medium more in the future.

The American Medical Association has also stepped in to acknowledge physicians from using social media, but has also advised them to “maintain appropriate boundaries” with patients.

A recent online study in March found that 60 percent of state public health departments use Twitter or another social media site to interact with their patients.

Lee Aase, director of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media inRochester,Minn has said that they have already been active on the social media domain by holding “Tweet camps” for their doctors on using Twitter. He further goes on to say, “If we can trust doctors with sharp instruments and narcotics, we can trust them with Twitter and Facebook.”

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Case studies | Monday, June 11th, 2012 | By | Tags: , ,

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