Archive for 'Challenges of social media'

The Top 5 Reasons Doctors are Probably Not Using Social Media

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion at an Invest Ottawa lunch with CMA’s Pat Rich, Quinte Pediatrics Dr. Dempsey, and B-sharp’s Michael Martineau.

Pat Rich, irreverent as always, spouted off the top five reasons why your doctor is probably not using social media.  I loved the list for its succinctness.

  • Too busy to make time for it
  • The system does not compensate physicians for patient engagement through social media
  • Regulatory environment (including privacy and security concerns, and professional boundaries)
  • Lack of knowledge about technology
  • Lack of proven clinical benefit

For more details on physician use of social media, check out Pat’s slideshare from a previous conference.

What do you think will turn them around?


Liabililty and social media

Before I start off, let me remind everyone that I’m no lawyer and no legal expert.  Caveats aside, I learnt something interesting that I thought I’d share.

When Canadian physicians provide medical advice on-line, that advice is still covered under the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA), much like it would be if the advice were given from the physicians office.  Should there be any legal action,  CMPA would cover legal costs.

This seems like good news — something that would help encourage physicians to use social media more readily.  However, we also learned that it is only covered if the person to which the advice was given is in Canada or a Canadian resident.   And with social media, you have know way of really knowing the location of the people you interact with.

There are still things you can do to reduce risk.  For instance, if you are holding a live tweet chat or other discussion forum with physicians answering patients’ questions, should could stipulate in the ground rules of the event that people asking the questions must be Canadian.  That won’t eliminate the problem, but it can help reduce risk. You can also stipulate that advice provided is of a general nature and that it would be inappropriate to answer patient-specific questions without a thorough understanding of their medical history which, of course, you don’t get in a tweet chat.

I’m sure there are ePatients out there reading this and groaning, thinking “why are they talking about liability instead of how to best help patients”.  I don’t blame you.  This shouldn’t be where our focus is.  And I like to think that it isn’t where our focus is.  But I think to best help patients we need to help clinicians understand this new social media environment and grow comfortable in it.  That means talking about all the good things social media can do to help build a better patient experience, and all the potential challenges. 

Call me an optimist, but I think we’ll get to a place where it is not uncommon to use social media for patient engagement.  But it will take some dialogue along the way.

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