Are Social Media Good for Medicine?
I have written before about the fascinating intersection between new media and medicine – the rise of review sites, the question of online doctors’ notes. And this recent article got me thinking once again about the most common example of all: Direct communication, namely the sort I am doing right now.
It’s not news that social media has caught lots of professional organizations off guard. Major media forces like the NFL and the Olympics continue to adjust their social media guidelines as the rules continue to evolve. Even doctors have been somewhat slow to understand the many advantages of social media; it took years before the AMA finally issued formal guidelines on the use of Facebook and Twitter. Here’s Salon.com:
It’s too early to know if such policies will have any meaningful impact on how doctors use social media. There’s great enthusiasm for its openness and ability to connect with patients and consumers. But there’s also great skepticism about its true value in keeping patients healthy and educated. Either way, healthcare social media isn’t going away. For health consumer and patients, it’s worth keeping its strengths and limits in mind when they decide to like or follow their doctor. But the real killer app in healthcare isn’t Twitter. It’s something far more fundamental: trust between the patient and the doctor they “like.”
Social media, like anything else, can be used for good or ill. When doctors abuse their broadcasting powers to complain about patients or issue ill-considered health advice, everyone suffers. But when doctors use media such as Facebook and blogging as a way to communicate important issues, then these channels can be a place where everybody learns.
My goal with this blog is to supplement the conversations I have in my sinus surgery office with an online component that covers further thoughts and newsworthy items. I hear many nice things about the work from my patients. And I am always on the lookout for more effective ways to help people with sinus symptoms to discover better information, and superior care.