I see it from time to time. The doctor with a voice who’s uncomfortable with transparency. They post and comment under the cozy blanket of putative anonymity. But it’s bad policy. Here’s why doctors need to be outed in social media:
Anonymity is a fantasy. It’s remarkably difficult to achieve. With small thoughts you can hide – in fact, no one cares who you are. If you offer anything worth hearing people will ultimately find out who you are. And the plaintiff attorneys will always sniff you out.
You need a reality check. Anonymity gives us phony security and opens the door for us to say the things we wouldn’t normally say. There’s no editorial influence more powerful than knowing that my patients and my boss are listening. While an incendiary rant may serve to vent frustrations and drive traffic, it just fuels the perception of doctors as cynical, frustrated folks. And we don’t need help with that.
We need the press. If you spend any time in the health infosphere you’ll see that physicians are the ones left behind. If docs want a seat at the health dialog table they need to raise their hands, speak up and be accountable for their point of view. Speaking from behind a curtain doesn’t help the cause.
“Trust me, I’m a doctor.” Or are you? Medical credibility begins with credentials. The web is lousy with poseurs and your ability to be taken seriously as a medical expert depends upon your ability to first admit who you are and what you do. If you can’t stand on your name and credentials, perhaps you should stay seated.
Privacy is privacy. Pseudonyms don’t absolve you from protecting the privacy of your patients. If you are compelled to tell stories, it’s the identifying details that need to be laundered, not your identity.
So let’s go public. Online medical personalities went out of fashion with Flea. He taught us that much like the great and powerful Oz, a fiery front is only a temporary cover for the man behind the curtain.