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Physicians Leveraging Social Media to Educate Patients

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media, May 3, 2012

Debunking myths
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. 

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2 comments on "Physicians Leveraging Social Media to Educate Patients"


Erick Kinuthia (5/9/2012 at 3:40 PM)
Fantastic post. Physicians should see social media as a way of reaching out to patients and helping them. Even though they won't be expecting it, they are more like to gain in the long-run. Erick Kinuthia Team MDwebpro

Hart Oldenburg (5/3/2012 at 7:17 PM)
Tell me please, how does the expenditure of a trillio dollar to 'heal' obesity patient fit into a positive health program? It stinks! I own the discovery and correction of obesity with its [INVALID]of related deseases. I condemned food guides and diets in 1992, all wrong, weight gain promoting. No publicity? They own the news and their jobs. Hart Smart Oldenburg is ambarrassingly simple, we can retire 90%, any age into comfortable resign and gain a few new healthy years.