While "expert" patients voraciously pursue credible medical information and communities online, clinicians "usually lag behind," Mesko, who is based in Budapest, said in an email exchange with MedPage Today. Instead of disdaining this kind of behavior, doctors need to see themselves as a gatekeeper of vetted online information and activities, he said.
“Social media provides us with a lot of opportunities, but only if we know the potential limitations and security issues. Acquiring such knowledge takes years, and my goal with the handbook was to shorten this time significantly for those medical professionals who would like to become a bit more digital, but at the same time use these online tools in a secure way,” said Mesko in an online engagement via email.
“I think communication methods in real life and in the online world are the same. If medical professionals understand this and create a proper online presence, as well as give their patients a chance to communicate with them through certain online channels, the doctor-patient relationship can become more efficient by saving time for both parties. Using digital technologies, especially social media, is now an integral part of medical communication, and as more and more patients use these platforms, their physicians must be able to deal with this in an evidence-based manner,” said Mesko.
CMDA Vice President and National Director of Campus & Community Ministries J. Scott Ries, MD: "Mention 'social media' during a conversation with one of your colleagues and observe the resulting reaction of the facial muscles. I predict you'll identify a subtle pupillary dilation, upturning of the corners of the mouth and an increase in pace of speech...or else you'll view a burrowing of the forehead creases, tightening of the lips and clenching of the jaw. When in past history has any other 'tool' ever evoked such emotional response from its users (or haters)?
"At its core, social media is indeed simply a tool—a forum to communicate, share ideas, explore information, engage conversation and create community. If you already embrace social media at some level, you won't be surprised to hear that I'm more likely to be contacted via Facebook than email by students, residents and even some doctors.
"If you find yourself beset with the clenched jaw, here are a few things that might help you dip your toe in the social media waters without catching a cold.
- Recognize that social media does not equal Facebook. Not all of social media is Facebook. As social media expands, the relative amount of the landscape occupied by Facebook is diminishing. If Facebook seems daunting to you, choose another option to explore.
- Peruse areas of CMDA’s social media engagement. CMDA is actively engaged with social media with both the current and upcoming generations of doctors.
- Consider following just one blog, along with following their Twitter and/or Facebook posts. This will let you ease into the foray a bit without becoming overloaded.
"But won't social media consume any vestiges of time remaining in our overloaded schedules? Only if we let it. It's like when I was taking driver's ed as an inexperienced 15-year-old. In attempting to pass a slow moving truck, I was hesitant to exceed the speed limit. Seeing the approaching car, the instructor promptly pushed her 'instructor’s accelerator' to quickly get us by the truck, while calmly saying 'Control the car. Don't let the car control you.' So it is with social media. However you choose to engage, control it...don’t let it control you."
Social Media in #Healthcare: Why You Should (Like) Social Media by Bill Reichart, MDiv
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