The Potential of Social Media
If social media isn’t currently saving lives, it certainly has the potential. Continuity of healthcare has proved crucial to delivering quality, efficient and life-saving care, and social media offers just the collaborative, “wisdom of crowds” approach to facilitate a continuous healthcare “co-op.”
Atop social media could be built a community of care, comprised of nurses, treating physicians, radiologists, pathologists and specialists who share, question and diagnose together, to the ultimate good of the patient.
“Collaborative” Medicine Gets High Marks
100% of the physicians who responded to a recent Best Doctors survey agreed that collaboration in medicine improves the quality of care for patients. In parallel, 72% of physician respondents are using Facebook, both for personal and professional purposes, and 66% are using LinkedIn. 91% of them are using smart phones, indicating that they are more connected than ever to friends, family and, potentially, medical colleagues.
Although we have yet to see a study that analyzes the correlation between physicians’ professional use of social media and clinical outcomes, there seems to be a growing movement in the physician community towards exploring digital platforms to facilitate collaboration within hospital settings, across state boundaries or even over national borders (access a recording of our recent physician panel entitled “The Power of Global Collaboration on Clinical Cases”).
So why aren’t more doctors taking the time to leverage a social platform? Does it stand to reason that if collaboration improves quality of care, furthering peer-to-peer consultation via social media will save lives? Fifty-eight percent of physicians polled say they are still wary of the role of social media in achieving these ends. An uncertainty of how to best approach and utilize social media tools stops many doctors from engaging.
The key may possibly lie in taking the stigma of frivolity out of “social.” Though sites like Twitter and Facebook primarily link individuals to one another on a personal level, assuming that Twitter can only be used for gossip and photo sharing is like saying a telephone is only used for chit-chat. Instead of dismissing the usefulness of a tool based on its most popular use, let’s rebrand the word “social” to mean “collaborative.” The physicians below are excellent examples of how to harness the power of group intelligence through a popular social media site:
For those interested in learning to use social media to promote their practice, connect with patients and consult with other physicians across the nation and the globe, it might help to listen to a Best Doctors webinar. These monthly events, conducted “for-physicians, by-physicians” and never with funding from pharmaceutical or medical device companies, offer tips, insights and answers for the “socially-curious” physician. Consider it another tool in your resource belt, one which can grow your practice, improve relations with your patients and grant you access to expert peer opinions and collaborations.
You can also email us at (we respond to this email address, I promise!) or find us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You can also download a copy of Best Doctors’ Slideshare deck: A Physician’s Guide to Getting Started on Twitter.