How many physicians are using social media for a variety of communication needs? While the number of physicians with Facebook accounts is likely to be significant, I am quite sure that the majority of use is personal. Some interesting questions are begining to surface regarding the ethics of using social media tools in clinical practice. For example, is it appropriate to “friend” a patient on Facebook or accept an invitation to be friended? For most physicians, this would instinctively not pass the sniff test if they were using a personal Facebook page — why would you want a patient to have access to your personal information anyway?
Similarly with social tools such as blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and others, it is important to understand how these tools can and should be used in order to provide value without becoming a burden and potentially placing one professionally in “ethical” hot water. That being said, a properly designed Facebook page specifically for an audience of one’s patients that is well moderated and controlled and provides a venue for appropriate social interaction and education can be a very useful clinical tool.
I have been a long-time advocate of blogging and the CanadianEMR blog goes back to December 2003; however, taking on an editorial role does bring with it a responsibility to manage and update the media (whichever you decide to use) so that the information being publicly presented is accurate, relevant, and up-to-date. Remember, what you do on the web stays on the web.
In the current issue of Future Practice, Social Media is covered extensively, including this year’s Medicine 2.0 conference in Palo Alto, California and an overview of the use of Twitter and blogs by physicians. A very useful section is “Social Media Essentials for Physicians in 2011”, which explains the background behind specific social media tools and provides some information on how they are used by physicians. This issue of Future Practice is highly recommended reading for any physicians who have used social media tools in their practice. Click here to read or download a copy.
Do you use social media in your professional practice? Share your experiences by clicking on the “Comments” link below.