Dr Jill Tomlinson, Mr Amit Vohra, Ms Dionne Kasian-Lew and Ms Mary Freer
“Social Media Panel Discussion: Social Media In The Medical Field.”
This panel discussed the use of Social Media within the Australian Medical Field at the SoMe Conference at Torquay, Victoria in November 2014. The key discussions and learnings that came from this session were as follows:
Most medical organisations and governing bodies offer long turn-around cycles for decisions and plans of action. However, they are being forced to adapt because social media is so immediate and ever changing, which means that these associations must streamline their processes in order to keep up.
You never know how popular or successful certain content will be when uploaded into a social media platform. Some messages flop, whereas others gain momentum, becoming classics or even going viral.
Social media can explode when launching a campaign, which can sometimes lead to organisations being unprepared and overwhelmed.
Once a message becomes large and viral, it’s too late to stop or pass the buck onto someone else. Planning your response so as to increase flexibility is highly recommended to minimise the potential impact.
Social media as a whole: As of the end of 2014, the Medical Industry does acceptance, appreciate and generally understand the concept of Social Media. Whilst this is a good step in the right direction, far more progress is needed as the younger generations and newer healthcare professionals will be actively involved with it, and it’s important that the older generation pave the way.
Dr Marie Bismark
“Social media, law, medicine and what you must know.”
Dr Marie Bismark is dually-trained as a Doctor and lawyer.
Whilst social media has a lot of advantages, there are potential risks that all users should be aware of, especially within the medical field. It’s better to understand them so you can reduce your risk and avoid any negative issues.
AHPRA have guidelines regarding social media within the Australian medial industry. The legal premise in terms of how to conduct your activity in a medical setting has not changed, nor is anything new: it’s just that social media has provided another avenue for potential breaches can occur, and so, users must be aware of this.
Advertising, just like on any other medium, must comply with the usual regulations on a social media platform too. It:
(1) should not be false, misleading or deceptive
(2) create unrealistic expectations
(3) offer incentives or gifts without Terms and Conditions
(4) must not be discriminatory
A good, quick check is to ask yourself: “How would I feel about explaining this social media post to the Medical Board?”
Doctors and patients need to have relationship boundaries, and social media has provided another way for this to be potentially breached. The relationship divide must be honoured, even in a social media setting.
Posting and disseminating unauthorised photographs or content on a social media platform is a breach of the law. With social media encouraging the sharing of content, this legal standard must be managed closely.
Again, with social media encouraging the sharing of content and opinions, the burden is on the poster to prove that the information is the truth or a fair judgement based on solid facts. Discrediting an identifiable individual, via publication to a third-party (Ie: anything on social media) including re-sharing or retweeting can be a questionable practise and needs to be carefully managed.
The line between someone’s activities at work and their personal life is a very blurry one. It is very important that anything posted to social media is consistent, ethical and legal.
Being legally and socially aware arms an individual and/ore organisation to be responsible and enjoy the benefits of social media while reducing the risk associated.
Dr Edwin Kruys
“Setting up and running your successful blog site.”
Dr Kruys is a GP in Queensland, with a passion for social media and has experimented with enterprise social networks and practice Facebook pages. His blog, doctorsbag.net, is extremely popular and covers topics about social media and healthcare.
Blogging can be seen as an act of generosity by others as it is a sharing of valuable content, but also be a tremendous positive experience for yourself too. It helps you to practise expressing your own ideas, articulating your experiences and compiling your own information.
Blogging in the medical space is far reaching, offering peer-to-peer communications, knowledge exchange, professional development, feedback, communications, media releases, opinions and so on. The two central motivations for blogging should be sharing information and influencing your audience.
When blogging, spend time verifying facts and always include references to the original sources of information. It’s good practise and is an ethical approach which builds trust with your audience. In addition, within the medical field, adding disclosures is also recommended, so that your audience is fully aware of your financial motivations and other such incentives that you've been offered which directly relate to your blog post.
Be careful to watch your tone and implications when you write within the medical field. Many healthcare professionals have gotten into trouble for making negative or inappropriate comments about their patients or other staff; barriers and professional etiquette should be maintained at all times.
Remember that blogs are always looked at by a wide variety of audience members, including younger Doctors, because they look to more prominent and well established Doctors as a learning opportunity.
When setting up a blog:
(1) Identify your target audience.
(2) Decide which platforms you wish to engage in.
(3) Decide which content you wish to publish.
Typical blogging mistakes:
(1) Nothing appealing in it for the reader
(2) Too many words/ too complex
(3) Low frequency of posts
(4) Too plain (not enough pictures or headings)
Readers love content that adds value, is free, is engaging, offers hints and tips, is well researched, uses simple language and tells a story.
To market your posts, relevant and intriguing key words and attractive hash tags are a great driver of readers to your content. In addition, catchy titles and a snappy first paragraph are absolutely vital to attracting and keeping readers.
End the blog post with a discussion question, so that is goes beyond your post and offers the opportunity for discussion.
But most importantly of all, never give up!
Ms Jen Morris
“Using social media to collaborate and transcend the traditional practitioner-patient divide.”
Jen Morris is a patient advocate, science writer, healthcare consultant and public health researcher. She works at the Melbourne University and an active community committee member of AHPRA, amongst other organisations to instil patient perspectives back into the medical practitioner field.
Social media has offered Doctors a gift: insight into the patient side of medicine- something that can often be overlooked. Social media has begun to smash down old barriers in all medical fields, and often offers a way of ‘just getting stuff done.’
The medical industry has hoarded information in the past, and with the onset of social media, this is no longer the case. Patients now have greater access to information which allows them to have more informed choice.
Informed choice with the following elements of medical care:
(2) Potential benefits
(3) Risks involved
(6) Choice of practitioner
(7) Health service
It’s now very important for the medical field to ensure that social media is understood and managed, as it's a large part of the medical field, whether they like it or not. A loud, communicative patient on social media isn’t always the most informed, and so, it is important that informed medical professionals join the conversation.
Social media should be embraced. Not only can Doctors now provide information for patients, it’s also a chance for Doctors to source information too.
The reality is, regardless of how a Doctor feels about it, patients ARE searching online for medical information and proactively making decisions for themselves, and so it is a responsibility for a medical professional to guide, not judge.
Doctors must NOT shun or belittle patients for doing this (called cyber-snobbery):
(1) This drives an instant wedge between GPs and patients from the onset
(2) No amount of persuasion will stop them from searching social media for answers
(3) Doing this will isolation patients and make them fearful
(4) It will also stop them from confession they are looking online, which will break down communication and stop the Doctor from having the opportunity to guide them correctly.
(5) Doctors should want to know what their patients are searching for and researching
(6) Doctors should be helping and assisting patients in their craving for more information, not reprimanding them for taking an active role
(7) Patients should be praised for taking more of an active role in their illness, as Doctors have been telling them for decades- now that they are, it should not be discouraged.
(8) Social media is not going away, so it’s better to embrace and manage it, than simply ignore it.
Unfortunately, most of the damage in this area has already been done, but it’s important to start to repair patient confidence.
As painful as it can be to admit, GPs now need to realise that some patients are extremely well-informed (sometimes even more than a GP), and this should be embraced, not feared. It creates a partnership in their illness.
On social media, feedback, suggestions and questions from patients should be treated as a gift, not a burden. The fact that someone has taken the time to provide insight into something that a medical professional may not know of is an opportunity to be aware and improve.
If you choose to be absent on social media, you forgo the positives and worse, miss the opportunities to respond and improve, which is far worse.
Social media can also improve patient-doctor relationships by offering a space to open communication over a shared medical passion or interest, rather than a day-to-day medical appointment over illness.
Dr Brad McKay
“Building Your Business Brand and Profile on social media.”
Dr Mckay is a General Practitioner and TV presenter for ‘Embarrassing Bodies Down Under’, a show dedicated to decrease the stigma of medical problems and increase medical awareness.
The best approach to social media is:
(1) Be yourself (invent and establish yourself)
(2) Be unique (offer something different)
(3) Be interactive (be social, reply and listen)
(4) Be proactive (set out and find new information, create content)
With social media, online and offline, you are your brand. Make sure to apply consistency and approach the audience in the correct way (eg: if blogging about the medical industry, don’t suddenly post photos of your cat).
With social media, if you’re not constantly active, your profile dies quickly and you have to start again.
Compelling and relevant information will attract followers, and so content is key. Ensure it is consistent, meaningful, relevant and timely.
There is a rule of thirds on social media:
(1) 1/3 is selling your angle/ pushing your product
(2) 1/3 is building your brand and identity
(3) 1/3 Fun, relevant content (like inspirational quotes)
Your identity on social media is like a story: you must build it over time rather than spam it to audiences. On social medial, your audience is everything. When you begin, you must decide clearly what you wish to say, how you want to say it, what details you wish to communicate, and what content they really want to hear from you.
Protecting your identity is crucial on social media. It’s important to monitor all chat about you are respond in the correct way. Don’t be afraid to speak up on social media- audiences appreciate opinions and input over fence-sitters and wishy-washy content.
Unfortunately, you must always be aware that with the good people come the bad (known as “trolls”). People on social media will love and hate you, follow and unfollow you, find you interesting and find you boring. That’s the reality.
Ms Dionne Kasian-Lew
“Why doctors must know about social media and not MIA.”
Dionne Kasian-Lew is the CEO of The Social Executive organisation, a consultancy advising boards and executives on social media for business.
Whilst social media is being highly adopted by the wider population, senior management are very under-represented, with only 15% of executives active.
Executives tend to misunderstand or prefer to ignore social media.
This also means that this space is void of appealing content about organisations that executives could provide to interested parties that are searching for this content.
There are six key myths about social media:
(1) It’s just a fad (2.55 Billion are current using social media)
(2) People only use social media to post photos of their pets or food
(3) It’s only for young people
(4) It’s only for geeks, Tech heads, and IT savy people
(5) It’s only for marketing
(6) There is no gain or R.O.I
All of these myths are incorrect, and this is a reason as to why organisations often fear or are reluctant to engage in it.
The main issue is that, whilst there are so many benefits and advantages, only the small amount of negative experiences are publicised by the media, and so, people tend to get the impression that social media only causes dramas.
One potential barrier is that so many platforms of social media exist today, that it can be overwhelming for most users. Therefore, it is best to stick with the main versions: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for business.
An emerging trend today is that people are more willing to trust a complete stranger’s review about a product online over all marketing collateral that exists. Social media encourages a “review” platform that organisations must be amongst, and not ignore.
In 2014, the G20 declared that the social media sphere was worth $US 16 Trillion of the world’s economy.
The main uses of social media are:
(1) Defensive (just be on there to deal with bad press)
(2) Online Reputation (building brand awareness presence)
(3) Active Use (regular posts, blogging, job adverts, updates)
The most effective use of social media is the Active Use, which IPN’s marketing team is engaged in.
It is important, today, that all organisations safe guard their territories in the social media space, which includes all URLs and user names on the main platforms (Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn) as imposters can claim it and spread incorrect information.
Truths about social media:
(1) It’s here to stay (it’s been around for over ten years and is growing rapidly)
(2) It’s about human moments and interaction of any kind, especially business
(3) It’s for absolutely everyone
(4) It’s about communications and relationships/followers/interested parties
(5) It’s absolutely immediate
(6) It can be used effectively and measured
CrowdMed (www.crowdmed.com) is an example of a social media platform where medical professionals from around the world submit and combine their expertise to solve even the most difficult medical cases.
This kind of ‘crowd sourcing’ approach is an excellent example of how social media creates a portal of information from the masses, including target audiences.
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) is another new trend on social media now, where large, reputable educational organisations are providing free-of-charge courses, bachelors, masters and certificates in practically everything. They serve as a way an individual can access education and provide everything a full paid course does, however they do not award the official accreditation upon completion.
Interestingly enough, some organisations, such as IBM are now accepting MOOCs certificates as official qualifications for entry into jobs.
Open Data is the most intriguing phenomena in social media at the moment. It is the collecting and analysing of social media data to predict trends and demographics due to its immediacy.
Open Data saw that statistics and data organisations were able to accurately predict the spread of the Ebola virus before any medical organisation could, because areas of contraction were posting the events online in real time.
Another medical website of interest is Patients Like Me (www.patientslikeme.com), where patients share their medical experiences and treatments.
Emerging trends with social media:
(1) It’s only going to grow in importance more rapidly
(2) Everyone is mobile now, increasing the social media push
(3) Even older consumers are joining social media
(4) There are now millions of consumers entering the market that have never seen life without social media
(5) Consumer education and opinion has never held more influence than it does now