Physicians and SocialMedia

Interesting blog post by KevinMD, exhorting health providers to become as Internet savvy as their patients,  lest and I quote:

the medical profession risks losing further influence of the online message, as more patients will be persuaded by charlatans, who now rule the web’s health information.

One primary care doctor I visit says “don’t believe what you read out there”…

Firstly, I think that KevinMD’s blog post has a misleading title “….engage in social media”.  Engaging in social media can rapidly become offering free advise over the web about medical conditions. I think a better title would be “…becoming web savvy.”

Secondly,  I think that physicians have several duties with respect to social media:

  1. Become informed on what medical information the web offers the patient, so that they can understand what information patients are reading.
  2. Direct patients to official websites such as medline , or well respected commercial websites such as webmd rather than the “charlatan” websites that KevinMD suggests.
  3. Understand how to mediate “self diagnosis” that a patient performs on themselves from the Internet and what symptoms the patient presents at the time of the doctor visit.

Patients are encumbered to:

  1. Don’t believe all you read online.
  2. Symptoms that one patient encountered and published online, may not apply to you.

In closing, here is a chart of hospitals currently using social media and a request from the USA government to find out how the public search for medical information.

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