A Physician Perspective on Social Media
November 27th, 2013 | J. Martin LeLand III, MD
Technology is of the utmost importance in medical advances. Whether it is inside or outside the Operating Room, responsible surgeons use technology for the betterment of their patients and their practice. The advancement of social media has been one of the hottest technological trends ever to sweep the globe. Currently, people spend more time interacting with social media than they do all of the major news networks combined. A large majority of patients will research their physicians online before ever meeting face to face. Surgeons have the opportunity to influence what their patients’ see by getting involved in social media and interacting. If they choose to ignore it, the surgeon is leaving their “online profile” up to whoever chooses to write or post about them.
Social media comes in many different flavors. Facebook and Twitter are two of the most well-known platforms. Both allow people or corporations to have conversations with readers about anything they wish to discuss. These platforms can include pictures and video in order to further engage the reader. They can include links that will direct the reader to things posted elsewhere on the web, such as a physician’s website or videos posted on youtube.com. By getting involved with social media, the surgeon is allowing potential patients to learn about them, their personality and their practice before the patient ever steps foot inside their office.
Surgeons are also using social media as a way of interacting with colleagues and staying on top of advancements in their field. By creating Facebook and Twitter profiles, the Arthroscopy Journal keeps AANA members up-to-date on high-impact articles and surgical techniques. By following the Journal (Facebook: www.Facebook.com/ArthroscopyJournal; Twitter: @ArthroscopyJ), AANA members can seamlessly incorporate the Arthroscopy Journal into their everyday lives.
With every opportunity comes responsibility. Surgeons must always maintain patient confidentiality, especially when interacting with public platforms such as social media. There has been significant debate over liability that may arise from surgeon interactions on public platforms. While there are very few guidelines or precedents, the responsible surgeon will always avoid discussing specific cases or passing judgment on treatment options when posting on open, public platforms.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR