I love the dialogue happening today on Susannah Fox's blog, where a group of readers ponder whether there's a generational divide in regards to physicians' use of digital technology. The post is in part a response to a post from Jay Parkinson, MD, MPH, who argues that technology will lead to massive changes in health care only "when the under-40 generation takes control."
One physician wrote to Fox that she felt "there was a divide, but it doesn’t seem to pattern itself on gender, or age, or comfort with technology." She told a story of implementing a secure physician/ patient e-mail system and being surprised when some of the "young, online natives" - those she thought would full embrace the program - had issues with it. Another reader agreed, saying he believed it's "not just a technology and/or age issue but a mindset issue. I’ve encountered a number of MDs who are very authoritative in their interactions with patients. I believe new technologies – especially those with a significant social component – can be seen as a challenge to authority."
And speaking of social, a pediatrician wondered about the connection between his patients and his social-media activities. He's fairly active on Twitter, he said, but most of his followers are other doctors and those in health care. "The overwhelming majority of health-care is still done in a face-to-face setting and I feel it will continue to be so for a while to come," he wrote. "So, how does what I do in the on-line world actually benefit my patients? Do they actually see what I do online as having benefit for them?"
A commenter named Erin expressed her desire for evidence on such patient benefits:
I believe that docs who engage with patients outside of the traditional clinical space are showing their willingness to collaborate and learn things together. If there was data to show some sort of relationship between [social media] doc usage and patient involvement/ adherence/compliance whatever, more clinicians might be willing to embrace the idea, regardless of age, seeing the value of its use.
Previously: How a “culture of permission” prevents doctors from being active in social media, Advice for physicians when interacting with patients online, How can physicians manage their online persona? KevinMD offers guidance, Susannah Fox discusses the effects of the Internet on health care and Can the use of devices among physicians lead to “distracted doctoring?”