Social Media is Forever: How it Helps Physicians Educate and Connect With Patients

flckr: woodleywonderworks

flckr: woodleywonderworks

Dr. Jeff Livingston, OB/GYN, is hooked on social media.

As I explained in a previous blogpost, Livingston jumped onto My Space when his teenager daughter told him that would help him reach out to teenagers facing pregnancy and STDs, and he never looked back.

Why? Because, he says, “social media makes your life easier and the care you provide better.”

How? It has to do with the long life of online information. Here’s how Livingston explains it:

Americans want to engage online about their health

Studies show that “Americans in general want to engage online about their health, but they’re recognizing that what they’re finding may not be real, or validated or actionable.

“It’s real important that doctors get involved in getting good content online,” continues Livingston. “That might be writing a blog once a week, creating short YouTube video clips or it might be creating more dynamic content on your website and promoting your website as the first place to get information. Read more

The Aruba Chronicles: Best Practices in Health Care Social Media

ArubaSmThis week I’m in Aruba presenting to physicians, certified nurse midwives and nurse practitioners at the Symposia Medicus 17th Annual Conference on Clinical Issues in OB/GYN.

Thanks to a great client, Lisa Miller, CNM, JD, and Jim Goodrich, executive director of Symposia Medicus, for helping to make this happen. And thanks to the 140 providers who will attend the conference who have motivated me to sharpen my thinking as I’ve developed presentations on the critical role social media can play for OB/GYN health care professionals.

I have long felt that expecting and new moms comprise one of the most natural of all healthcare communities, and this conference is a perfect time to help these providers understand the amazing opportunities available to them. Read more

How Doctors Can Avoid Social Media HIPAA Violations: It’s Not Rocket Science

flickr: ttarasiuk

The case of a Rhode Island physician fired and fined for violating HIPAA regulations on her personal Facebook page may have the unfortunate effect of discouraging some hospitals from embracing social media.

It shouldn’t. By following simple steps, the physician and hospital could have avoided the entire fiasco.

Here is what we know. According to the Boston Globe:

Dr. Alexandra Thran, 48, was fired from the hospital last year and reprimanded by the state medical board last week. The hospital took away her privileges to work in the emergency room for posting information online about a trauma patient.

Thran’s posting did not include the patient’s name, but she wrote enough that others in the community could identify the patient, according to a board filing. Thran, who did not return calls for comment yesterday, also was fined $500. Read more

Hospitals Take Note: 92% of States Report Online Violations by Physicians

flickr: Tim Morgan

Do you know what your physicians are saying online? According to a study published in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, 92% of state medical boards reported inappropriate online behavior by physicians.

The most common violations were inappropriate patient communication (69%), such as sexual misconduct, and the use of the Internet for inappropriate practice (63%), such as prescribing without a clinical relationship. Many of these online violations resulted in serious disciplinary actions, including license restriction, suspension or revocation.

Although professional organizations, such as the AMA have developed social media standards, the authors of the study (S. Ryan Greysen, MD, MHS, MA; Katherine C. Chretien, MD; Terry Kind, MD, MPH; Aaron Young, PhD; and Cary P. Gross, MD, MPH) noted that licensing authorities lack formal guidelines. They advocate for regulators and physicians to address online practices, and conclude, “our findings highlight the need to promote physician understanding and self monitoring of online professionalism and to create consensus-driven, broadly disseminated principles to guide physicians toward high-integrity interactions online. Read more

Open Access: A Budget-Friendly Tactic to Build Hospital Social Media Content and Credibility

New health-related research can stir up a frenzy of interest on social media platforms (think of how recently antioxidants or probiotics entered the general public’s vocabulary). When a new finding is reported, social media platforms buzz and hospitals often field calls from reporters seeking physician experts to comment on the latest findings.

Although there are many attributes of social media, one drawback is the difficulty in assessing the credibility of health information due, in part, to the vast amount available on the web.

The public is hungry for credible sources of health information. Using Open Access resources is a cost-effective way to locate new health-related information and use it to engage communities and build your hospital’s reputation as a credible go-to social media source.  Read more