As more consumers turn to the Internet for health information, physicians increasingly are using social media platforms to connect with patients, U.S. News & World Report reports.
According to a National Research Corporation survey conducted earlier this year, about 20% of U.S. consumers use social media websites to obtain health information. The survey found that Facebook is the most popular social media site for looking up health data, followed by YouTube, Twitter, MySpace and FourSquare.
To take advantage of this online patient presence, many physicians are using social media sites. According to U.S. News, more than 1,300 physicians have registered with TwitterDoctors.net, a database of physicians who tweet health information.
How Doctors Are Using Social Media
Glen Stream -- president of the American Academy of Family Physicians -- said he uses Facebook to engage patients in discussions about their health. He posts reminders and links to health care resources and updates his Twitter account when he attends medical meetings and conferences.
Other physicians say they use social media sites to:
- Communicate directly with patients;
- Conduct interactive polls;
- Issue real-time alerts and appointment reminders; and
- Post photos or videos of medical procedures.
Some physicians are concerned about using social media sites to communicate with patients because they say tweets or other public posts about diagnoses or treatments could violate patient privacy.
Many doctors say that personal medical questions should be addressed through in-office visits or phone calls (Haupt, U.S. News & World Report, 11/21).