#Doctors20: Impact of Social Media on Medical Practice – Part 2

I shared my slide deck in part 1 of this post.

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Carlo, me and Bernadette (@nxtstop1) at the end of the session. Photo by @carvicab.

This post is to summarize (what I remember of) the Q and A that followed our session at the Doctors 2.0 and You conference.

Our moderator Michael Weiss (@hospitalpatient) asked Dr. Carlo Caballero (@carvicab) how clinical practice in Colombia was changed by social media. Carlo said that some colleagues perceive social media as purely for fun and entertainment. Coming home after a full clinic, it is difficult to still attend to patients online.

 

  Instead, what Carlo is seeing is doctors providing reliable online health information to patients. He has his own website.  I agree with Carlo which is why I have a website in Filipino answering FAQs at my clinic – www.dokbru.endocrine-witch.net.  

 

Someone in the audience shared that she was at Doctors 2.0 last year. She came away feeling so hopeful of the future but when she went for a clinic visit, nothing had really changed. She asked, why is change coming to healthcare so slowly?! She seemed frustrated to find social media-savvy doctors like myself and Carlo at Doctors 2.0 but nowhere else, at least in her limited experience. She shared that she was a relatively well person with little contact with doctors.

Then came the light bulb moment when Tal Givoly (@givoly) quoted William Gibson –

The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.

Tal said, these doctors you see at Doctors 2.0 are ahead of the others and are not typical. But that’s how it starts. So he says, the real question is, how do we propagate the discussions we have here at Doctors 2.0? To my mind, it was as if he was asking, how do we change the world?

 

 

 

I must confess two things. I’d not heard this quote before. And I did not know about William Gibson. I turned to Google. I found 8 Takeaways from Topol’s Latest: ‘The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands by Leonard Kish. This article has the Gibson quote too, followed by this illuminating paragraph –

From the perspective of current health care practitioners, the future that’s happening now looks like a distant planet, light years away. As evidence from some of the predictable early reviews of the book, perhaps nowhere is the future less evenly distributed than health care. Physicians (and likely a lot of health technology vendors) don’t see or recognize many of the changes taking place. In health care, after all, there’s an often-cited 17-year adoption rate of new innovation.

Wow, 17 years!!

Then someone else in the audience brought up doctor’s appointments and compared the situation to having his car fixed. He can google information about his car problem. He can call the mechanic before bringing the car in. He can schedule an appointment and not expect to wait for hours for a 15-minute slot. Inwardly, when I heard this, I was saying Ouch!! Waiting times at my clinic is horrible. I told the audience that as well.

The comment reminded me of a journal article I had read by Dr. Randale C. Sechrest – The Internet and the Physician-Patient Relationship. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2010 Oct; 468(10):2566-71. It mentions an automobile as well! To quote –

The physical world and the virtual world are becoming interdependent. Every product or service has a physical component and an information component. The physical component of a product is relatively easy to define and understand as the physical artifact, for example, an automobile. The physical component of a service is a bit more complex but is perhaps best understood as an action occurring between two entities that requires some type of active participation from both parties. For our purposes, this is best illustrated by a surgical procedure.

By contrast, information components are somewhat ethereal; they are made up of all the various bits of information available to help you locate, choose, access, and utilize a product or service. Information components become important in two ways: (1) they help us choose what products to acquire or services to access and (2) they help us better utilize the product or service after the transaction is complete. A set of rich, robust information components wraps around the actual product or service and increases the value of a physical product or service.

Dr. Sechrest echoes the previously raised sentiment that healthcare is lagging behind other industries that have been transformed by the Internet.

This is how I think it applies to me. My most popular blog post is What’s an endocrinologist?  This post explaining what an endocrinologist is and what she does – that is the information component. When I examine a patient at the clinic, that is the physical component of the service I provide. And as Dr. Sechrest explains, the information component increases the value of the service. When a patient reads my blog, he will be able to understand what an endocrinologist does and if indeed he needs to see me. If he has questions after the consultation, hopefully my clinic FAQs blog www.dokbru.endocrine-witch.net can provide further information. Some tips on healthy eating and lifestyle change are on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/EndocrineWitch.

BUT I still need to solve the problem of waiting time and scheduling!

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