…a quick scan through peer-reviewed journals reveals only a handful of articles, and no evidence-based guidelines, to guide doctors on the use of social media. It is unclear whether such engagement adds to or detracts from a therapeutic patient-doctor relationship, and clinicians are unsure about what constitutes good standards of care and professional responsibility on these platforms.
More physicians and hospital are using, or thinking about using, social media, such as Dr. Sean Khozin of Hello Health, a system that mixes office and online visits. He’s quoted in the Times article as saying “there are so many layers of bureaucracy between health care providers and patients.”
We can use social media to coordinate care with patients and with different specialists, all using the same platform. I can monitor my patients, and they can also use these tools to become empowered through a better understanding of their own disease state and active engagement.
Our own Danny Sands is quoted on the down side of social media for patient communication. “Maybe letting your patient get too close isn’t always good for the therapeutic relationship,” he says, and he goes on to note that busy physicians are not eager to add the new time commitments social media would entail without a clearer idea of the value. The highest-value healthcare application of social media may be in supporting patient communities, where, Sands says, “we can aggregate across space and across the world and create a safe environment for support.” He calls referral to a patient community like the Association of Cancer Online Resources an “information prescription.”