Social Networking: Doctors Are Concerned – Should They Be?

Twitter is certainly growing and Facebook is the 2010 most searched for website and the most searched term, however many doctors are worried about them being used in the medical industry. They tend to stick to phone calls and face-to-face interactions.

There are serious concerns over the security of data privacy and protection and perhaps some of the concerns are right. Most of the social networking giants have had security problems. Facebook & Twitter have had their fair share of problems but that hasn’t stopped them from having mass growth. Of course it all changes when sensitive information is being exchanged, you probably wouldn’t want your conversations with your doctor broadcasted would you?

Then again, when you take a good look at what is eventually going to happen, the medical industry is quickly moving towards technology. Some doctors can even use an iPhone app instead of a stethoscope, how crazy is that?

Can you imagine it on a morning when you wake up and you aren’t very well, you reach for your laptop, login to your portal and communicate with a healthcare professional. That would be brilliant. It would be even better in countries where the health system is so big. Sometimes it can be difficult to actually see your doctor and that is where some kind of social media setup would help.

According to Cliff Peale of Cincinnati.com, Dr.M.LeMasters has said that you need to be very cautious because once the data is out there, is can basically go anywhere. To an extent she is correct but with secure domains and encrypted passwords it could work. If the health services were to set up some kind of verification system similar to that used when paying for something by credit or debit card online, then it will work pretty well.

This sort of system could be further evolved for Pharmaceutical companies. If there were dedicated people that sat inside an area with figures of what medicines were being prescribed or 1 person per practice, then it could help to improve health care throughout the world. Remember these are just initial ideas and we at OSM will always welcome your suggestions too.

Do you think doctors are right to have concerns around social networking? How do you think social networking could evolve to help, doctors, patients and pharmaceutical companies? Let us know in the comments below.

  • http://www.worldofdtcmarketing.com Richard_Meyer

    The issue, in addition to security, is more one of liability. Doctors could be liable for providing bad information via social media. In addition more than 85% of doctors will not friend a patient via social media. However the advantage of using social media lies in making it easy for patients to schedule appointments and and for providing general health information while marketing the practice.

    • Tim Ollason

      Thanks Richard, I guess it has it's Pro's and Con's, what i was thinking was some kind of platform that sits outside of social networking, so something linked to Facebook on behalf of the practice. That way the doctor could keep their name hidden at least. I'm sure it will end up going this way but time will tell.

      Richard, how do you think the Pharma industry would take advantage of this?

      • http://www.worldofdtcmarketing.com Richard_Meyer

        Tim: Right now there is a shortage of PCP's physicians going into the new year. The issue is one of liability but more important physicians want to get compensated for communicating with patients via the Web and right now there are only a small number of health insurers who do that. They could use Social media to market their practices but I believe that will be a tool for more speciality physicians than PCP's (http://www.worldofdtcmarketing.com)

        • Tim Ollason

          I can see how this sort of system would work for the UK, especially when the PCT Brick structures change but I am unaware of the Structure in the U.S. I would be interested to find out more about it. What is Your Background Richard?

  • http://www.garious.com/blog Garious

    I think that when it comes to patient info, this must, at all times, be protected from scrupulous people online. Imagine if someone thinks it's a nice joke to make changes to a patient's prescription just because it's easy to access something like that in social networking sites? I'm not into the medical profession but I guess, there;s a big difference between having a real checkup with patients than scanning yourself with an iPhone app or talking to your doctor online. Yes, it may save you the commute or travel time, but unless we can teleport ourselves into the digital world – I think that some things need to stay traditional. But, I'm all for online setting of appointments without having to make a phone call for my next visit.

    • Tim Ollason

      That's why there is a need for a high security as we mentioned in the article. Of course there is always a danger of medical records falling into the wrong hands, however isn't that risk there already today?

      We believe that this is a possibility for the future, already, large companies are moving towards the likes of Facebook.

  • conner

    ya man whats the deal