I came upon a post by Dr. Richard Foullon, MD on Medpage Today regarding the role of Physicians in helping their patients understand information that is available on the internet and the use of social media networks. In school, I have heard time and time again that patients will come to me with a self diagnosis. It is my responsibility to review the information that my patient feels is relevant while taking into consideration my training as a Physician when determining the actual cause of illness or underlying problem. I believe this is a situation that all medical providers are facing.
There is an abundance of information available on the internet. The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 59% of adult internet users seek out information on a specific condition or disease on the internet. Some of the available information is accurate, yet much of it is not. Using social media networks to share information is a way to showcase the quality of information you can provide and a means of marketing your skills. Patients have traditionally chosen doctors based on their success and quality of care. According to Dr. Foullon, as Physicians, “[if we] provide patients with trusted, non-biased, accurate, useful healthcare related information online via social media channels…[we] will provide a service that is definitely needed, more in line with our higher calling and at the same time, or as a by-product, accomplish what your financial practice consultant strongly suggests you must do.”
Using social media as a means of marketing oneself allows Physicians to utilize their training to help patients understand information about a diagnosis or condition. Over 75% of patients leave the Emergency Room uncertain about the instructions provided to them by their attending Physician. In this day and age, the internet is a viable resource for those seeking clarification. As a Physician in training, I am utilizing social media to share relevant and accurate information and to build a presence for myself. It is a form of building a doctor-patient relationship, but perhaps in a less traditional sense.