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Should Children’s Hospitals Do Social Media?

I [recently] participated in an interview for an upcoming publication. As the interview wound down, the dialog downshifted into small talk that included, among other things, hospital blogs.

The interviewer (who had recently been exploring the blogging community) asked me what I thought about Thrive’s (Boston Children’s Hospital blog) recent birthday nod to Seattle Mama Doc (Seattle Children’s Hospital blog). More specifically, did I think it was unusual that one children’s hospital would congratulate a competing institution on its one-year anniversary?

I thought the question was odd but it got me thinking: Do children’s hospitals compete in the social space? I don’t think so. They shouldn’t. And if they were competing, what would they be competing for?

Children’s hospitals are inherently regional. Parents of the northwest see Seattle Children’s as the end of the earth. In the northeast, Boston Children’s is the bee’s knees. And while specialty service lines like congenital heart surgery may draw patients from around the world, most kids come from their corner of the world.

Then there’s the broader question about the point of a blog for a children’s hospital. Is it a marketing gimmick or does it serve a higher function? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Swanson: Physicians Have An Ethical Duty To Participate In Social Media

Wendy Sue Swanson, MD

Most physicians still don’t see the need to blog, Tweet, or spend time on Facebook. They groan when you ask if they participate on social media platforms. “I’m too busy seeing patients,” they say, “and why would I expose myself to legal risk? Someone might think that I’m giving medical advice, or disclosing personal information about patients online.”

While these fears are pervasive, early adopters of social media like Dr. Wendy Swanson (and yours truly, by the way) have a different view. Not only should physicians become active in social media, but they have an ethical responsibility to do so.

Wendy is a pediatrician, mother, and blogger at Seattle Children’s Hospital. My friend “ePatient Dave” deBronkart recently encouraged me to watch an excellent video of Wendy speaking at the Swedish Symposium 2010 conference. I’d like to summarize Wendy’s pro-social media arguments for you here, with the hope of luring more of my peers to join the conversation online! Read more »

Social Media Managers: Can They Get More Doctors To Go Online?

A social media manager is becoming an imperative position for hospitals.

Medical institutions are waking up to the fact that they need to engage their patients and physicians online. Nowhere is there more fertile growth than in the various social media platforms that are prevalent today — like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

American Medical News recently profiled the phenomenon, highlighting the position of social media manager, which some institutions pay between $60,000 and $80,000 per year.

As it stands, many hospitals are tiptoeing into the world of social networks, guided by the able hands of select online mavens like Mayo Clinic’s Lee Aase and Swedish Medical Center’s Dana Lewis. However, convincing executives of the return on investment remains a challenge. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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