A survey conducted by The Harris Poll, on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, finds that a lot of people wouldn’t mind being friends with their health care providers. In the survey, they identify that at least four out of ten people were willing to be connected to their doctors through social media. This number is also reflected in a staggering 54% among millennials.
In an age where social media reigns supreme, many people have find nothing wrong with being able to contact their doctors online. They either post on their public walls or shoot their physicians a private message. On the other side of the coin are the doctors, who are still on the fence about this new found trend.
It’s no secret that one of the best tactics to promote one’s service and work is through the use of various social platforms. Popular doctors and healthcare facilities have been known to use Facebook pages, Instagram, and Twitter among others to spread the word of their practice. Normally, these pages also act as a form of “in-between” that can be used to ask for consultation schedules, prices for services and other fast questions.
“I want to be an active part of my patient’s care, but social media does open up opportunities for over-sharing or providing information that would be best managed in the office setting or through designated telemedical technology,” Jennifer Caudle, DO, a practicing osteopathic family physician and is a professor at the Rowan University of Osteopathic Medicine. She has a decent sized social media following that allows her to get in touch with her patients better. She is also a featured on different TV shows for her medical expertise.
It’s a thin line they’re walking on. The Department of Health and Human Services has created various guides for practitioners to properly manage their social media. One of them is banning public communication that can pinpoint a client. The number one rule is to make sure that the identities of their client are kept under wrap as much as possible.
Most doctors use the web as a tool to spread important information that could potentially be life changing to some people. Sharing small tips and showing informational charts can often be a good way to influence people into living a healthier lifestyle.
“Social media and other digital platforms hold great promise for improving health outcomes,” says Dr. Caudle, “but the conversation should start in the doctor’s office—and in some cases remain there.”
Ernesse Marie Berlin
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