Making Social Media a Part of Medical Practice, Part II

Making Social Media a Part of Medical Practice, Part II

I closed my last post (yesterday) with a comment that doctors are not too internet savvy.  It is true.   I do think many doctors are very good with email and can search the internet, but the rest is a blackbox, especially this social media stuff.  Doctors need to catch up.  Social media is going to make us catch up.  I want to close the gap.

One attribute of social media is the ability for one person to tell another person, or, to tell many.  What happens next is intriguing.  If your message is interesting enough to tell others, every person that you tell will perpetuate your message by telling others………..and so on and so on (the old Clairol commercial!).  Pretty soon, your message becomes “viral,” that is, your message continues to repeated exponentially (this is how viruses replicate by the way).

How does this apply to building a medical practice?  How does this apply to health care?

Social media will bring both relevance and credibility to the health care market.  It will force doctors to be more knowledgeable about the health care they deliver and force patients to be more critical about the health care they receive.  How?

The internet is like the biggest yard sale.  As you wander around, you might find something really special, or, you might not.  Chances are that you’ll find something that is okay, but not great.  The problem is that the internet is too big for you to locate exactly what you want in a reasonable amount of time and effort.  Why?

The issue is relevance.  Our computer searches are not always relevant.  We are not getting the information we are looking for.  When we search the internet, most of us lack the skills of using the correct words that correctly identify or describe our intent, i.e. what we are looking for.  It is user error.  As an example, suppose you had a fender bender this morning.  You do an internet search looking for a body shop.  What did your search find?  Did you notice there are two types of “body shops?”  One fixes cars and one fixes your flab.  You get the point.  Your search criteria weren’t specific enough.

The internet is becoming more and more relevant.  Google, Yahoo and MSN (the 3 biggies) are working hard to make your internet experience more relevant.  They can’t make us any smarter, that is, they can’t get us to use better keywords to search,  so they are learning how we individually serf/search the internet and are helping us by learning our computer habits.   With time, our searches on the internet are becoming more and more relevant.

Credibility is the next step.  How do we know what to believe?  Once we are armed with relevant, reliable and credible information……..we are off to the races!

See you tomorrow.


Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist

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  • Judith Nicotra
    Posted at 08:35h, 22 September Reply

    Thanks Randy. Food for thought…….

  • Howard Jacobson
    Posted at 13:07h, 22 September Reply

    Interesting question whether docs will jump on the Facebook / Twitter / Blogging bandwagon in enough numbers to be meaningful. They’re risk-averse people. Risks of social media for docs include legal liability, unintentional reliance by readers, regulatory / licensing body scrutiny. Lawyers are very careful about social media for these reasons.

  • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
    Posted at 01:51h, 23 September Reply

    I agree. Docs and lawyers are very conservative. Lawyers are slowly becoming more cozy with the internet and slowly using internet marketing/social media, etc. This is why I believe it will happen with docs too, but it will take longer. As the younger kids become professionals, the more tech savvy the profession will become. I just feel that I can identify a few reasons why this is inevitable.

    I agree the legal liability, at this point is huge for both docs and lawyers. Remember a few years ago, though, we had the same issues with intellectual property.

    Thanks for your comments.


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