Social Media and Medicine — A Good Mix?

Businesses have been quick to latch on to social media: isn’t it great that you can “Like” your septic tank cleaning company?  Books have been written on optimizing use of social media in business settings.  Yet in the medical business, there are reasons to hesitate before jumping onto the social media tidal wave.

Medical blogging is an exception: it is a growing and ever more important part of the medical new media.  Prior to the advent of blogging, medical information spread in the form of printed, peer-reviewed articles, and editorial statements by sometimes self-annointed authorities.  With medical blogs it is now possible to hear the voices of your peers on the front lines of medical practice, and the number of points of view available has multiplied exponentially.  This of course parallels the whole phenomenon of the new versus in the old media in general.  One wonders though, with the wide-spread buy-out of private practice groups by hospitals over the last couple years, if these medical blogging voices will be censored in the future.  I have read of cases where over-zealous bloggers have revealed too much about the inner workings of their companies and have lost their jobs over it.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

I am wondering about the mix of medicine and Facebook.  I want to have a Facebook page for our Heart Rhythm Center.  It could be a place where information relevant to our specific practice and also general information on arrhythmias could be disseminated.  But there are problems with this.  Can we, the employees of a large hospital system in Louisville Kentucky launch an independent Facebook page without jumping through a bunch of committee approval hoops?  Can we use the hospital system name on our page?  Who is the page for?  For coworkers and others who work in our field?  For patients?  If patients post to the page, do they then expose their private (albeit voluntarily Facebook uploaded) information to others, thus violating HIPAA laws?  What a potential mess!

If others have started Facebook pages for their practices, I would be interested in their comments.  Good idea or bad?

By mannd

I am a retired cardiac electrophysiologist who has worked both in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky and as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. I am interested not only in medicine, but also in computer programming, music, science fiction, fantasy, 30s pulp literature, and a whole lot more.

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