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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*

Two Docs Who’ve Passed: They Might’ve Been Social Media Giants

This year I learned about the death of two physicians that were pretty important to me.

The first was my pathology teacher, Dr. Guido Majno. In addition to being a tremendously kind and curious person, he and his wife wrote the best textbook I’ve ever read.

The second death was that of my pediatrician growing up, Dr. Thomas Peebles. Funny, although he followed me from birth to high school, my family never knew about his incredible research background. We learned it in the many obituaries.

It’s worth reflecting on their accomplishments and the manner in which they conducted their lives and practice — especially in this era, when doctors are encouraged to develop their social media presence and be proactive about online reviews.

Would they have used these new tools? Would they even have needed them? Would they have found the idea of trading links to medical stories on Twitter to be interesting? Stimulating? Or maybe distressing or distasteful?

I never thought to ask them.

*This blog post was originally published at Blogborygmi*

The CDC’s Social Media Toolkit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published the newest “Health Communicator’s Social Media Toolkit.” From the CDC:

A guide to using social media to improve reach of health messages, increase access to your content, further participation with audiences, and advance transparency to improve health communication efforts.

The guide is truly fantastic, detailed, and comprehensive.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

The Top 5 Doctors On Twitter

I got the honour to be included in the list of the top 5 [Twitter] doctors in medicine published by The Independent. The list was based on which uses the Klout algorithm for determining the influence of tweeting doctors: updates hourly the influence of doctors tweeting based on their activity, RTs (retweets) and followers. The site began its list at the end of July and boasts “1287 doctors with more joining every day” from around the globe including Australia, Belgium, India, UK, Jamaica, Japan, Colombia and the USA.

On September 7, the top five most influential doctors are:

1. @DRoftheVaJayJay

2. @drdrew

3. @brontyman

4. @Berci

5. @hrana

It doesn’t mean that much, but it’s good to know people like the content I share day by day.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Is There Social Health Psychomanipulation?

Last week Michael Arrington wrote an important piece in Techcrunch, “Blogging and Mass Psychomanipulation.” It details how as bloggers we play to our readers for positive regard. We give ‘em red meat.

I think there’s social health psychomanipulation. Many of us indulge the obvious social health memes. We universally bash pharma, blindly buoy the empowered, and champion just about anything at the intersection of digitally democracy and health care. Too many want to be accepted, retweeted, and linked by an evolving hierarchy of power brokers looking to advance one self-imposed new standard.

And every now and again I fall into the trap and offer bread and circus.

If you’re preoccupied with traffic metrics and the blind need to belong, go ahead and jump on the bandwagon.  Push those big red “easy” buttons of social health. Contribute to the echo chamber. Then read Michael Arrington’s piece and look in the mirror. Who (or what) are you really trying to advance?

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

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