Primary care physician and popular medical blogger Kevin Pho, MD, warns colleagues today that those who fail to embrace Twitter, Facebook and blogs risk becoming irrelevant as more patients flock to the Internet as a source of health information. Pho writes in an op-ed piece in USA Today.
Doctors who are not active online risk being marginalized. Facebook and Twitter users, more than half of whom are younger than 34, rely on the Web for most of their information. As this demographic ages, it's conceivable that they will consult social media first to answer their health questions. Already, patients are seeing how social media can improve their care. Hospitals are posting emergency department wait times, as well as updating family members on the status of their loved ones during surgery, on Twitter...
...Quality health care requires a doctor-patient dialogue that doesn't simply end once the physician leaves the examining room. While ultimately standards of care online need to be established by professional medical societies, in the meantime doctors should embrace social media as a way to continue the conversation, and to provide patients with the trusted health information they'll need.
Tell us what you think: Would the ability to communicate with your doctor using social media channels improve quality of care? Or should those conversations only take place in the privacy of an exam room?
Previously: Why health-care professionals should blog and Six reasons to get a Twitter account