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A Physician's Perspective: Meaningful Use of Health Technology

Oct 1 2010   8:22AM GMT

The growing need for doctors to understand social media

Posted by: DrJosephKim
EHR, electronic health record, social media

Why aren’t doctors embracing social media? Most of them will tell you that they’re simply too busy and they don’t have the time to “play around the Internet.”

The majority of doctors who are not engaged in social media do not understand the value of social networking. They haven’t created accounts on major social networking websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. In fact, most of them really don’t even understand what you would do on these sites.

As the world of health information technology rapidly evolves, there’s a growing need for doctors to understand social media because digital patient information will lead patients and providers to communicate electronically. Patients will want a level of social interaction that goes beyond exchanging a few secure email messages. Some may even communicate with their providers by saying, “look, I posted a photo of my rash on Facebook!” I doubt that many patients will do that, but you simply never know how will and who won’t.

So how will doctors benefit if they get involved in social media? Health care providers are forming communities of practice where they can share “best practices” on implementing and leveraging health IT resources within the hospital or outpatient setting. Many people are sharing ideas and even speaking about their experiences using certain electronic health record (EHR) systems. Others may be complaining about implementation failures and obstacles. Engaging in health IT communities will allow physicians to ask specific questions, learn from others, and share stories of successes and failures as we all try to embrace the digital world of health IT.

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