Social Media: Implications in the Doctor-Patient Relationship

I came upon a post by Dr. Richard Foullon, MD on Medpage Today regarding the role of Physicians in helping their patients understand information that is available on the internet and the use of social media networks. In school, I have heard time and time again that patients will come to me with a self diagnosis. It is my responsibility to review the information that my patient feels is relevant while taking into consideration my training as a Physician when determining the actual cause of illness or underlying problem. I believe this is a situation that all medical providers are facing.

There is an abundance of information available on the internet. The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 59% of adult internet users seek out information on a specific condition or disease on the internet. Some of the available information is accurate, yet much of it is not. Using social media networks to share information is a way to showcase the quality of information you can provide and a means of marketing your skills. Patients have traditionally chosen doctors based on their success and quality of care. According to Dr. Foullon, as Physicians, “[if we] provide patients with trusted, non-biased, accurate, useful healthcare related information online via social media channels…[we] will provide a service that is definitely needed, more in line with our higher calling and at the same time, or as a by-product, accomplish what your financial practice consultant strongly suggests you must do.”

Using social media as a means of marketing oneself allows Physicians to utilize their training to help patients understand information about a diagnosis or condition. Over 75% of patients leave the Emergency Room uncertain about the instructions provided to them by their attending Physician. In this day and age, the internet is a viable resource for those seeking clarification. As a Physician in training, I am utilizing social media to share relevant and accurate information and to build a presence for myself. It is a form of building a doctor-patient relationship, but perhaps in a less traditional sense.

Dr. Richard Foullon, MD: Medpage Today
Dr. Kevin Pho, MD: Medpage Today
Pew Research Institute


3 responses to “Social Media: Implications in the Doctor-Patient Relationship

  1. Do you think it's more the doctor's responsibility to make sure their patient is comfortable talking to them and informed or the patient's responsibility to not self-diagnose?I'm sure you know that it often feels like doctors are just rushing to get from patient to patient, so while I think that it's the patients responsibility to state their symptoms as opposed to "I think I have West Nile Virus" so that the doctor can diagnose, the doctor should seem like they care and want to listen, right?

  2. That's a huge problem in standard Medical care. Doctors are not taking the time to listen to their patients. They rush from room to room, spending 15 minutes (or less) with their patients. I believe that is a major factor in why so many patients utilize the internet. Not to plug Naturopaths, but, one of the most distinctive characteristics of Naturopathy is the amount of time we actually spend with our patents discerning the actual cause of disease rather than treating a self diagnosis. A lot of conventional doctors prescribe based on the patient's diagnosis, in my opinion, this is extremely dangerous. Some patients walk into their doctor's office and "request" a medication – "I need albuterol for my asthma" "I need adderall for my ADHD". Sometimes these conditions are not even explored! How is that medicine?

  3. It's annoying, especially when I go to the Wellness Center at school because they don't have time and they tell you they don't have time so that's you know…really nice. I definitely agree that that's why I use WebMD so that when a nurse practitioner finally has 5 seconds to see me I can say "this is what I think is wrong with me" before they're bolting out the door. Pretty lame, and I definitely need an ND!

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