It can take a long time for websites to catch up with the latest medical information, but physicians are finding a new way to share that knowledge with people: the online forum Reddit.
Reddit, a site that has thousands of communities that focus on specific topics, allows many physicians a way to provide up to date information to the public, according to MD Magazine. Doctors can use Ask Me Anything (AMA) posts to introduce themselves to other online posters and field questions about a variety of topics, providing expert knowledge related to their specialties.
Patients looking for information can’t just pick up the phone and call an expert’s office, but if that doctor is on Reddit, patients have the opportunity to ask a question, Mark Pimentel, M.D., director of the Medically Associated Science and Technology Program and associate professor of medicine and gastroenterology at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, told the magazine.
Doctors also benefit because the questions asked on the forum can help guide their own research, the article noted.
The forum can also be a way to correct false or misleading information, as "fake news" in medicine is a growing problem. The number of patients influenced or confused by research or misleading advertising has become a pervasive issue for providers. Part of the problem, as FierceHealthcare previously reported, is that many patients don't read beyond a viral headline.
Forums such as Reddit aren't the only way to educate patients. Holly Rollins, an experienced marketer, suggested doctors put information on their own practice website so patients know they can come to you for factual content they can trust. Become the number 1 source for legitimate and trustworthy health information, related to your specific area of health, to impress and build further trust with your current patients, she said.
And as Peter Alperin, M.D., vice president of connectivity solutions at Doximity, pointed out, it's a way to let other physicians know about your expertise when they are looking to make referrals.
While the internet is a good place to discuss topics and general questions, it doesn’t replace the specific medical advice a patient will get by visiting their doctor. Raymond Hino, an administrator at Skyway Surgery Center in Chico, California, cautioned doctors about responding to specific healthcare questions posted on social media.