While the healthcare industry is beginning to set forth guidelines related to social media, not all of physicians' assumptions about the dos and don'ts are necessarily accurate. Consider the following insights from some of today's leading social media experts.
Myth #1. Social media isn't useful for specialists with limited patient interaction. To the contrary, even anesthesiologists, who don't typically have ongoing relationships with patients, can make important contributions to the patient experience via social media, Kevin Campbell, M.D., an internationally recognized cardiologist and Fox News correspondent, said in a recent interview with Forbes. Posting informational videos about what to expect about anesthesia induction and recovery, for example, can help ease patients' anxiety before surgery, Campbell said, which can ultimately help improve outcomes.
Myth #2. It's harder to connect virtually than in person. For some topics that may be sensitive, social media may be a more comfortable way for patients to receive a medical message. For example, a teenage patient once told Jeff Livingston, M.D., of MacArthur Ob/Gyn, how cool it was that her doctor's practice was on Facebook, noted a post from KevinMD. More impressive than being "cool": the patient revealed that the Facebook page was the only reason she read educational materials on sexually transmitted disease and teenage pregnancies.
Myth #3. You don't need a plan. Physicians do face more pitfalls than the general public when it comes to social media, so it's not a good idea for doctors to get online and start posting willy-nilly. First, physicians should have a conversation with their legal counsel to go over their boundaries for using social media professionally, Campbell said. Next, doctors should refine their goals--to increase market share, increase referrals, educate patients, learn from colleagues--and develop a strategy from there.