Why Doctors Should Spend More Time Online…

On March 29, 2010, in Featured, by tgoodridge

greys-anatomy-castIt’s still a great time to talk about healthcare and social media.

Just like every other industry, healthcare has changed dramatically in the last 15 years with the abundance of information available to patients beyond their physician. Docs might not like it, but patients are going to continue to come in with questions about something they read online. More importantly, they might be reluctant to ask doctors at all, instead relying on “experts” on the Web.

Doctors need to accept the fact that patients are going to the Web first for information on their health just like information on big purchases, entertainment, and so much else. They’ll start with Google and their network of friends and families.  Then they’ll sift through the most effectively search-engine optimized sites for those they trust the most. The best way to combat misinformation from these resource is first to have an online presence and second to embrace in two-way conversation with patients.

The conversation is going to take place with or without you.  A physician should adopt social media to communicate with patients more effectively and publish reliable information their patients can use in their independent online research. Right now in healthcare, the  most widely used tool is email -A doctor or nurse can  answer questions and dispense advice by replying to emails to give patients immediate, actionable information. But the future can be so much more efficient. Hospitals could have a team online, acting like customer service representatives and chatting with patients to determine when a child’s fever warrants more concern than a cool wash cloth and Tylenol. Imagine if 10 hours spent online with patients can avoid 20 hours in the doctor’s office?

There are lots of tips and tricks out there, but Dr. Bryan Vartadedian from the Better Health blog network has it right when he says “90% of social media is just showing up”:

“I took a lot of heat when I posted this quote on Twitter a few months back,” he said in a post last week. “But I think there’s something to it.  Everyone wants to believe that social success comes from deep, ‘meaningful’ relationships.  These descriptors are relative in the virtual world.  Social media isn’t rocket science and simple visibility has real value when you’re starting out.  Find socially active doctors.  Be present. Be real. See how things evolve.”

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Can Social Media Save Healthcare?

On March 23, 2010, in Featured, by tgoodridge

Well, maybe.  But I hope this title caught your attention…Yesterday,  just hours after the passage of the new healthcare bill, my Facebook update said “wish there was a dislike button”.  Minutes later, the first comment was added, the healthcare topic was brought up, and the fireworks began….

For the record, I’m not for the healthcare bill, but most of my friends were. Over the course of the day, each of them made their argument- and good ones- in favor of the this monumental piece of legislation. And you know what? It was a terrific discussion. Since, I don’t know enough about the healthcare bill, each of them explained it to me in their own, well thought out language. I got more out of this discussion with my friends, than I ever would reading the NYT, WSJ or any other news source.

So what does this tell us?

  • Facebook is still a terrific platform for a lively discussion with friends. There’s no way we would have had this same discussion on a blog. Facebook brought us together, and will keep us together. Bottom line, we’re more comfortable on Facebook because it’s our own network of vetted friends and acquaintances.
  • More and more of us are getting our news, and forming our own opinions, through social networks. According to a well publicized statistic, 80% of original news content is consumed away from its original source. If it’s shared on Facebook (and we’re really comfortable on Facebook) we’re more likely to chime in and voice our opinion.
  • The “Obama-Effect” is still in play here. We all know how Obama used Social Media to win the hearts and minds of America. It’s spilling over into every nook and cranny of social media. People feel more empowered to voice their opinion, speak their mind, and (hopefully) engage in a useful dialogue.

Engagement is on Fire..
Around the internet, user-engagement is increasing at a break-neck pace. We’re not just consuming content. We’re talking about it- a lot.  We’ve all become experts/critics and more.A recent blog post from Brian Solis reflects some startling new changes in human behavior online, based on some fresh new research from Josh Bernoff and Forrester.

Simply compare the top chart (2007) with the bottom chart (2010).  We’re creating more content, commenting on more content, and being conversationists (updating our status) on a regular basis.

Does this mean that we’re going to change the face of Healthcare? Well, at the very least, we’ll be talking about it online every single day. And with open discussion comes a more educated and enlightened audience. An audience that will help move and shape healthcare,  in whatever direction we go in…