Physicians in Social Media

Social Media has provided the opportunity to listen to conversation, and observe the musings of many professionals. In particular we are afforded the opportunity to listen in on the conversation between medical professionals. Some medical bloggers such as @Doctor_V have embraced the nuances of social media providing stimulating discourse on the ramifications of health technology, social/professional media, medical education and online debate. The resulting discussions are often vigorous, stimulating and entertaining.

I am evesdropping on their conversation, and pondering the different views. Here are some examples of conversational rhetoric:

This from a cardiologist, Dr Wes on Medicine to Social Media: Get Over Yourself. @DoctorWes provides useful tips and insights for physicians as they take their first tentative steps into social media

I have noticed an interesting psychodynamic to most medical bloggers, social media enthusiasts, and internet-savvy individuals use social media: … we all are narcissists

We love our blogs, our posts, our ‘wall,’ our ‘followers,’ our ‘subscribers,’ our ‘friends’, and our ‘unique visitors.’ ….. But I find it funny that social media ‘experts’ continue to ponder why doctors don’t ‘engage’ more in social media. After all, it’s the rage, right?

…One might think that the instantaneous communication afforded by social media would be the perfect place for ‘on-line collaboration.’ Yet in reality, using social media, even doctor-limited online forums, might be the worst place a doctor could ask for advice, especially when uniquely identifiable issues specific to an patient are discussed with others in such a potentially public, legally-discoverable way. For many doctors, the legal, ethical and political climate is simply not conducive to permitting patient-specific discussions on the internet.

….No matter how you parse it, doctors don’t avoid the internet and social media because they’re simply Luddites, they avoid the internet because they enjoy the benefits of anonymity, privacy, efficiency and legal protection that comes with dropping off the grid.

And this from Dr Ves quoting from Risky Business – Tweeting the Symptoms of Social Media (PDF). Dr Ves’s blog, and social media presence is a rich source of information. His motto is to share what you find useful, share what you’ve learned. @DrVes provides a plethora of useful tips on blogging, tweeting and online feed management

To date there are at least 540 hospitals in the United States utilizing social media tools: Hospitals account for 247 YouTube channels, 316 Facebook pages, 419 Twitter accounts, and 67 blogs.

The number of individual and independent medbloggers is in the thousands….[yet there] are a number of other scenarios that could lead to liability. For example, what happens if an ‘off-duty’ physician responds to a health question by a neighbor while doing yard work? Suppose the same exchange occurs through online ‘messages’ between a physician and one of the physician’s ‘friends’ on Facebook, creating an electronic record of the exchange that could potentially support the existence of a physician-patient relationship, thereby creating certain liability arising therefrom

And this very personal comment from Dr Mike [@sandnsurf], an Emergency Medicine physician in Australia. Although he blogs predominantly on medical education, he also provides insight into the development of social media as a tool for physicians.

..for [me], the foray into the underworld of social media has been an enlightening and liberating experience.

I love reading physician anecdotes, experiences and case-based blogs, and this has inspired me to share similar stories for educational purposes.
I love the frank, open and sometimes harrowing comments, descriptions and experiences of patients and reading their side of the doctor-patient relationship.
I love the opportunity to debate, comment and interact with other physicians who have given up their time to share their experiences and thoughts and to express their ideals.

I now interact with people from all round the Globe, and although these ‘friends’ are virtual – they still afford comfort in collaboration, interpolation and juxtaposition…this conversational expansion has enhanced my local work practice by helping me rise above the petty bickering and political inanity of water cooler gossip.

I gave up explaining to colleagues what I do and why I do it a long time ago. I believe the ride we are taking is not purely a narcissistic extension of our individual dictum but more an opportunity to broaden our horizons, embrace difference and promulgate evidentiality.

Blogging can be lonely. Especially lonely if we constantly rely on viewer stats, page rank and comment counts to justify the time we take to document our cogitations …but I am surfing the blogging wave to taste the salt water; feel the rush of wind in my face; and brush up against dolphins…not to observe from the beach, ice cream in hand, blistered by the rays of apathy and indifference.”