Being a member of #hcsmca has really opened my eyes to how healthcare under-utilizes social media tools despite the exciting possibilities other industries are exploring and adopting. Though privacy and liability are valid concerns, I don’t think they’re the only issues preventing healthcare providers and medical organizations from getting on the social web. On twitter alone, there are plenty of great examples of healthcare providers (@DrAnasYounes, @DrTerstriep, @docmikeevans, @rdjfraser, @drpauldempsey) and medical organizations (@ScarboroughHosp, @QuintePediatric, @CAMHnews, @SickKidsNews) who have found a way to engage in online conversation while respecting patient confidentiality.
No, I think the real issue is a lack of understanding of social media: what it is, what it isn’t, what it can and can’t do, and how to integrate it into practice to enhance, not sacrifice, patient care. It’s up to the early adopters, the #hcsmca and #hcsm community members, to advocate for the use of social media tools in practice.
First, let’s make social media more accessible. Let’s take our collective wealth of knowledge and reach out to the naive and the newbies, show them what success on social media looks like in it’s many different ways, and help them take the baby step toward publishing their first blog or posting their first tweet.
Next, let’s support each other by talking about our personal missteps and lessons learned, sharing new tools and resources, and continuing to participate in the healthcare social media conversation, both online and off.
Most of all, let’s continue to demonstrate that building a meaningful following requires dialogue. This is the most important point about social media that is often misunderstood, so let’s get this straight. Blasting your followers with self-promotion on your chosen social media tool is advertising, and there are better mediums out there for doing that. People use social media to be social, to connect with other people in a meaningful way. So let’s continue to build friendships with each other.