Physicians Leveraging Social Media to Educate Patients
Both Seattle-based Swedish Medical Center and Rochester-based Mayo Clinic have social media resources for physicians on their websites, and the organizations help train docs on using the technology.
Mayo Clinic has a blog page on its website, which also links to its Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels. In addition, it has a Center for Social Media microsite that includes information about its six social media summits, which are day-and-half-long intensive boot camps that shows providers and administrators how to use these tools effectively in clinical practice.
Swedish Hospital also has a blog , and it educates its physician groups through boot camps, and Lewis holds "lunch and learns" on a regular basis where staff can ask her questions. In addition, Swedish has created a one-page guide on "10 things to keep in mind when you visit social media sites" that it distributes to staff members on a regular basis.
Swedish's social media strategy is "not relying on people to come to us, but being where they are—whether that is Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube," says Lewis. "Because of that strategy, it makes sense to tap into the amazing experts of our system—the doctors, nurses, and researchers—and thinking how can we get content from them and get it online."
Lewis also educates physicians on how patients are using these platforms to find information.
Even if physicians don't get on social media themselves, they should be willing to recommend social media sites and information to patients, she says. Physicians should be providing a starting point online for patients, because the first things that come up in a Web search may not be that helpful or accurate.
Lewis says physicians should direct patients to a couple of websites, social sites, message boards, and factual sites. "It would take a little time up front for physicians, but would pay off manyfold for all of their patients in those disease areas," she says.
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