Time commitment is one of the most cited reasons that physicians give as to why they don't use social media professionally. "I don't have time for extra work" is a common complaint. However, social media should not be viewed as extra work, argues Farris K. Timimi, MD, a cardiologist and the medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.
"If you study Internet use, people spend one in five minutes a day on social media platforms," says Timimi. "This is truly where our patients are, so our obligation is to make sure [patients] have accurate content available to help them make appropriate healthcare decisions. … Our obligation is also making sure we are part of those conversations. We have value to add to that conversation."
Another concern is risk. But when it comes to social media, physicians can't be so risk-averse that they don't engage.
"It's really important that physicians understand that if they don't take part in that conversation, that someone else's comments on Yelp or Angie's Listbecomes the new reality of how they are viewed online," says Timimi.
Dana Lewis, interactive marketing specialist at Swedish Medical Center, says another misperception is that physicians feel like they have to participate in all types of social media or that they should know everything. "One social media site doesn't work for everybody—some physicians like Facebook, others hate it. Some like to blog or make videos, but they feel like they have to do it all," she says.
Part of Lewis' job is to show physicians different ways to be involved in social media, whether it's a video, blog post, or finding content that Swedish can use. It's intimidating for physicians to get started if they think they have to be a super doc Tweeter or blogger like KevinMD, says Lewis.