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Defining Online Physician Conduct

This week a reporter cornered me on the issue of professional behavior in the social space. How is it defined? I didn’t have an answer. But it’s something that I think about.

Perhaps there isn’t much to think about. As a “representative” of my hospital and a physician to the children in my community, how I behave in public isn’t any different than a decade ago. Social media is just another public space. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we’re in public. When I’m wrapped up in a Twitter thread it’s easy to forget that the world is watching. But the solution is simple: Always remember that the world is watching.

On Twitter I think and behave as I do in public: Very much myself but considerate of those around me. I always think about how I might be perceived.

Here’s a better question, online or off: What is professional behavior? I have a pediatrician friend who, along with the rest of his staff, wears polo shirts and khaki shorts in the summer. The kids love it.  One of my buttoned-down colleagues suggested that this type of dress is “unprofessional.” Or take a handful of physicians and ask them to review a year of my blog posts and my Twitter feed. I can assure you that some will identify elements that they find “unprofessional.” I believe I keep things above board.

This is all so subjective.

The reporter was also interested in how I separate my professional and personal identities in the online space. I’m not sure the two can be properly divided. The line is increasingly smudged. I try to keep Facebook as something of a personal space. I think it was Charlene Li who suggested that she only “friends” people she knows well enough to have over for dinner. That’s evolving as my rule as well. But independent of how I define “well enough,” Facebook is still a public space. My comments and photos can be copied to just about anywhere.

Social media has not forced the need for new standards of physician conduct. We just need to be smarter than we were before. Everyone’s watching.

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Social Networks For Doctors: One Place At A Time

I suspect that in the next couple of years we’ll see the emergence of a viable social network for physicians. It hasn’t happened yet, but I suspect that we’re getting close. Physicians are increasingly dabbling in mainstream social sites.

But maybe that’s a problem. After all, a doctor can only hang in so many places. If you have “The Facebook for Doctors,” do you expect us to spend our time there instead of on Facebook itself? Maybe we will, and maybe we won’t.

Beyond the obvious requirement of a network to deliver value, I think the rate-limiting factor is old-fashioned bandwidth. You can only be one place at a time. If I spend my days on Twitter, I’m not likely to spend my days on said doctor’s network. I will go there for particular things and to talk to certain people about specific issues, but like most doctors I’m not sure I can tell you exactly what I want. I’ll know it when I see it. (Actually I do, but I’m keeping it tip-top secret.) Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Social Media For Doctors: The Pros And Cons

The pros and cons of social media for physicians are nicely reviewed by a number of prominent medbloggers (including yours truly) by Bonnie Ellerin in her recent white paper (pdf). An excerpt:

There is a profound change sweeping the world of medicine. Technology is the driver, but it has nothing to do with a new drug, device or procedure. Rather it is about the change in physician behavior and mindset that technology — the Internet more specifically — has unleashed. Today, physicians of all ages and specialties are online, whether via laptop, desktop, or mobile.

With physicians’ acceptance of technology has come a new type of openness among a small but growing number. In the past, the only doctors who were likely to air views publicly were medical journalists. But, today, there are physicians who blog, tweet, email with patients, post videos, even check-in on Foursquare. If you have any doubt, just look at the “Favorite Blogs” section of a physician blogger or scan the list of followers/following of any doctor on Twitter, and you’ll get a sense of how many of them are getting social. Far more than you thought.

Read more HERE.

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

h/t: @hjlucks on Twitter via Smartblog On Social Media.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Gather Professional Opinions From Your “medCrowd”

medCrowd is the 52nd in my list of biomedical community sites and maybe the first one using crowdsourcing. From medCrowd:

Perhaps, you have a patient with a rare condition and you don’t know the best treatment. Or you are treating a patient and you have heard there have been recent developments in the field, but you are not sure how these actually affect your patient’s day-to-day management.

The problem is finding the best solution for your patient. What you need is help finding it.

medCrowd enables you to find the best solution for your patient by collecting your peers’ professional opinions, simply and in one place. This is called crowdsourcing.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Reaching Doctors In The Virtual World

It’s the great migration to digital. And as civilization makes its move, the pharmaceutical industry is trying to figure out how to reach out to physicians. Pharmaceutical reps are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Branded medication portals leave most doctors cold. Email outreach is marginal.

Pharma strategists ask me how to reach doctors in the new world. I don’t have an answer. It isn’t that I can’t come up with an answer. It’s just that a good one doesn’t exist. Why?

Doctors aren’t anywhere right now. They’re stuck somewhere between the analog and digital. Socially they’re nebulous. Their virtual communities are non-existent. Public social networks are sparsely populated. When they participate they watch and rarely create or discuss. Our profession is going through a lot right now and it’s evident in anemic digital adoption. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

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