In a rapidly-evolving field such as complementary medicine, social media shows great promise as a tool for dialogue, information dissemination, and patient contact. While some clinicians praise social media as a new chapter in the doctor-patient relationship, others warn: there’s a fine line. Are the higher personal and legal standards of clinical communication compatible with the casual ease of social media? Here are the perspectives.
Educating the Public
Social media presents clinicians with an unprecedented opportunity to spread awareness. Unlike traditional media, social media is highly relevant. Websites like Facebook give users many ways to filter content — one being groups. For example, a clinician specializing in mesothelioma can join a mesothelioma Facebook group to deliver important information directly to a target audience. Video sharing websites like YouTube make it easier to educate the public while boosting one’s brand.
Moving Complementary Medicine Forward
Educational YouTube videos don’t need to be limited to the public, though. Some have even been used to educate medical students or sustain a dialogue.
Bringing the complementary medicine dialogue onto social media could increase its public accessibility and bring in new, diverse ideas. LinkedIn was made for professional circles to network and discuss; many clinicians have already discussed on it, to good effect. Twitter’s character restrictions might limit discussion, but its immediacy is a great way to maintain contact with others in your field.
Crossing the Line?
Clinicians are likely to have seen the issue here. Sites like Facebook allow you to message privately — but for the most part, everything on it is perfectly public. Doctors and nurses must be extremely careful not to disclose patients’ personal information. It’s illegal to do, even by accident. The public tends to self-diagnose when given medical information over the internet. All publicly-relayed medical information must be qualified or vague enough to not come across as a diagnostic tool.
Clinical social media ends up being a matter of discretion. Every medical authority should be mindful of how their communications may be used and misused — anything that could be seen as a violation of confidentiality should be treated as one. That’s not a reason to write off the medium entirely, though. Be mindful, be informative, and use your platform to help people live healthier lives.
Expand your clinic’s reach online and in your community with Metro Collaborative. This group of complementary medicine practitioners discusses important issues such as clinical social media at dinners that receive tremendous Facebook exposure. Call them at (212) 777-8949 or visit their website to grow your platform and gain a stronger referral network.