Social Media is becoming the common, easily accessible vehicle by which many people, including physicians, are communicating. This form of communication or social interaction is very convenient for all to use; Twitter and Facebook are probably the most common media used and are very simple. Just as celebrities tweet “getting my nails done” and college students tweet about an upcoming party tonight, a physician can tweet about a stomach flu that’s going around in their community.
"If you go back two generations, doctors came to your house. They lived in your community. They probably went to the same church…With social media, "what we're really doing is going back and creating a more personal experience with technology." - Jeff Livingston
People like to feel a part of a community and the more you involve yourself personally, the more you are viewed as approachable, a reliable resource and respectable. Everyday physicians are creating Twitter and Facebook Pages as a way to:
· Connect among other physicians
· A resource for patients to turn to
· A way to view what patients are thinking- since communication is rare between physicians and patients
· An avenue to voice your opinion- as it can go unnoticed with so much use of WebMD and Google
· A bigger draw to your practice- if a patient follows you & forwards an informative tweet to a friend, expect more patients
Even the AMA has placed a social media policy which contains guidelines of implementing privacy settings on sites such as Facebook & Twitter. Also, it encourages maintaining appropriate boundaries of physician-patient relationships on the web. However some physicians aren’t respecting these guidelines according to Kevin Pho, a primary doctor based in New Hampshire, “The problem is that some [physicians on Twitter] break Pho's cardinal rule: Never use Twitter to dispense medical advice or comment on a patient.” source
The guidelines to setting the privacy on social accounts weren’t as thorough as expected from AMA, however. If you are concerned about your privacy, here are step-by-step guides for Twitter and Facebook.