Don’t Just Not Fall Off Your Horse: How Hospitals Can Effectively Share Expertise Through Social Media

I recently saw The King’s Speech. Twice. A film about King George VI (played by the fantastic Colin Firth), it focuses on his stutter and how it affects his journey to the throne during the beginning of World War II.

During a scene of the movie that particularly struck me, George VI’s father (King George V, before he passes), has just given a radio address to the nation. He is concerned about the dedication of his oldest son, Edward VIII, who eventually abdicates to marry a twice-divorced American. Looking fiercely at his second son, he says something like, “It used to be that a king had only to look good in uniform and not fall off his horse. But this…[points to the radio microphone] has changed all that.”

flickr: Joe Shlabotnik

The rest of the movie makes painfully clear how the advent of a new technology radically changed the role of a monarch, and how George VI had to struggle to adapt in order to meet the needs of a nation entering another devastating war.

Now, I am not going to claim that any of us are in the same position as George VI. Certainly (unless I have royalty among my readers), none of us have lived with the heavy expectations that fell on his shoulders during such a time in history.

We are, however, needing to adapt to technology that changes at an ever more rapid rate. The role of a physician or hospital administrator is not the same as it was twenty years ago, or ten, or even five. But, lucky for us, we can choose to embrace developments that make it easier to convey important (and sometimes life-changing) information to our patients.

I am currently working on a newsletter article about colon cancer for a client of ours. I was interviewing a gastroenterologist yesterday and realized what a laborious process it was for him to translate his knowledge of timely developments in his field into everyday language. He would pause and think, and then talk slowly, as if changing from Korean to English as he spoke.

I realized how it was both of our tasks to convey correct information as clearly as possible so that the target community would understand colon cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment. Not a trivial subject.

My overall point here is that the medical community is full of vital information, new developments, and exciting ideas. You are the experts. Share current information with your patients through the technology that is constantly coming into being. It is not enough to hope that your patients run across the right book or that you’ll be able to convey all you need to during a yearly office visit or a brief hospital stay.

People are online. They are on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and your hospital’s website. Have you taken the time to create the content they need? Have you translated your years of expertise into easy-to-understand language? In other words, have you embraced the present opportunity through a blog, a tweet, a post, a video, an e-newsletter or other online content? Don’t just not fall off your horse. Be part of the twenty-first century.

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