Social Media for a Medical Practice

Macular Degeneration And Your Diet: Part 3
September 19, 2009
Making Social Media a Part of Medical Practice, Part II
September 22, 2009
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Social Media for a Medical Practice

How social media may build a medical practice and lead to improvements in healthcare.

When I started this blog/web site in April, I had a good idea of what I wanted to say, but I had no idea how a blog and social media would work together. Yesterday, I addressed over 60 eye doctors at a local continuing education conference. I discussed how I envision social media helping doctors and their patients by providing both with relevant and credible health information.

My “slideshare” presentation is available for viewing on the home page of this site.

Social media for patients with diabetes and macular degeneration will prove to be a powerful tool and lead to improvements in health care. This is my hope.

Examples of social media include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Slideshare, etc. While not an expert on social media, I believe I do recognize a powerful component of social media. The ability for one person to communicate with one or thousands simultaneously, in real time, and on a level playing field is the most important attribute of social media. Social media allows one person to share his/her thoughts, thereby sending an endorsement about a product or issue (be it positive or negative) to everyone that cares to “listen.”

Social media’s “value” may be understood in the following example. In social media, people tend to “listen” or to “follow” what other people are doing. People get “to know” other people by listening and following about other’s activities, interests, comments, etc.  Social media is like going to a gigantic cocktail party. At a cocktail party are dozens of conversations going on at the same time. Social media allows you to follow all of the these conversations at once, and, if you desire, you may join these conversations to add your own two cents.

Let’s move on.  If I tell you that I saw a movie/DVD from “Blockbuster” yesterday, and you and I usually have the same tastes for movies, what do you think you’ll do next time you want to rent a DVD?  Not only will you look up that title, but you’ll probably go to the same DVD store I do.  Why?  Because I endorsed the movie and told you were you were likely to find it!  You followed my recommendation.

Much the same is true about social media.  Now, let’s say both you and I have diabetic eye disease or macular degeneration.  Let’s say I found this really great web site about diabetic retinopathy.  Wouldn’t you go?  Sure you would.  You know me and respect my tastes just as I respect yours.

Okay, back to real life.  I have created this web site for two reasons;

1.  Build a Virtual Community:  I want to create a web site that offers relevance to the topics of macular degeneration and diabetic retionpathy.  I want to create a credible source of information (a web site about retinal disease written by a retinal specialist).

2.  Build a Local Community:  I want to create web site for my actual patients and their “non-retina” physicians, such as primary care phyicians, internists, family docs and endocrinologists, as well as other “non-retina specialist” eye doctors.  My feeling is that everyone’s level of knowledge will be increased.  As Sy Syms said, “an educated consumer is our best customer.”

Why social media? The internet is rampant.  Everyone uses it for “information”  credible or otherwise.  I believe healthcare will be better served as more credible information is published, but there is a problem.  Doctors are not too internet savvy.

More tomorrow.

“Randy”

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
www.TotalRetina.com
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist

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Comments
  • John Farrell September 21, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Good start – you’re just scratching the surface of the power of social media, which I’m sure you realize…

  • Jeff MacLauchlan September 24, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Randy, this is quite cool and I see a lot of potential utility. To use your cocktail party metaphor from this post, it seems to me that it’s important to know you’re at the right party. People generally want to use these tools to find others who can help them (1) know what to expect from their particular pathology and treatment and (2) to discuss treatment options. Would a location on the site map or that pull-down menu above help people get to the right corner of the room to talk to people interested in similar conversation? I also worry about policing or verifying matters of fact as posts proliferate (I suppose an aspect of the legal exposure one fellow blogger posted). Is there a way to use a Wikipedia-type editing, self-policing structure? Your posts obviously aren’t the issue, it’s the responses and subsequent comments. I suppose also that there’s an element of personal responsibility–people have to know that reading a posting about someone else’s situation or circumstances can’t necessarily translate into a different situation. I applaud the envelope-pushing! Good work!

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