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Physicians Leveraging Social Media to Educate Patients

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media, May 3, 2012

Educating docs
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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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.