The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery published “Doctoring” in the Age of Social Media in the June, 2017, issue of the Society’s online journal ASMBS Connect. This article focuses on use of social media, particularly Twitter, by bariatric specialists, but the discussion is relevant for other clinicians.  It acknowledges that people interested in learning more about medical issues, such as obesity and weight loss issues, may be exposed to inaccurate or otherwise unhelpful information via social media.  On the other hand, it is, the article advocates, time to accept the fact that consumers of health care information are turning to social media, and clinicians who participate on social media have the opportunity to participate in online conversations about medical issues, and to “engage and support your patients.”

One example of a physician who has embraced Twitter is Neil Floch, MD, a bariatric specialist who has 123,000 (!) followers.  He advocates that clinicians have a responsibility to participate in social media, especially Twitter, in order to help provide balanced and accurate information about medical issues, “even if it is done 140 characters at a time.” Another physician, John Morton, MD, past president of ASMBS, notes that social medical can provide opportunities for patients to support each other, in addition to raising consumer awareness and professional awareness of health-related developments, information and activities.

mhconcierge’s take: It is increasingly evident that both consumers of health care and providers/clinicians are using social media, particularly Twitter, to seek information, discuss issues, and feel connected.

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