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Physicians As Conversation Agents In New Media

I frequently talk about the visibility of doctors in the online space. How can doctors make content, contribute to the broader dialog, and be more visible? Maybe I need to spend less time pushing the idea that every doctor needs to create. Most doctors, after all, just want to listen and watch. Maybe we need to be cultivating dedicated communicators.

There’s a role evolving where physicians are formally involved in the creation of content and the maintenance of dialog. Wendy Swanson at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Claire McCarthy at Boston Children’s Hospital come to mind as good examples. Both serve as models for how institutions can leverage the voice of an individual for a branded online identity while contributing to the common good. Both are evolving as conversation agents on social platforms and IRL. Call them medical conversation agents of new media.

Physician conversation agents can represent hospitals, health care systems, medical schools, nonprofits, advocacy groups and industry. Physician conversation agents can even represent themselves if they’re so motivated (I represent me).

The medical industry wonders how to bridge the evolving gap with the medical community. It’s easy: give me a doctor to talk to. Worried about the FDA? Then stay clear of product. They can talk about the Red Sox, offer a nugget of information, contribute to my human signal. Start by building yourself into the conversation. Permission-based dialog will find it’s place once the FDA sets its rules. But you’ll never be able to have that dialog unless you bring a credible representative to the party.

Healthcare, be it hospitals or industry, can learn from other industries. Do for your organization what Scott Monty does for Ford, Amber Naslund does for Radian6 or Frank Elliason did for Comcast. There are more examples.

As more and more physicians find their way to the online space, expect the role of physician-as-communicator to grow. It’s how health organizations will do business, socially.

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

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