What role does social media play in otolaryngology?
Background: Patients seek medical information online. Because much of this information is unreliable, the physician has to ensure that patients are being educated appropriately. In fact, physicians can develop websites themselves that will not only provide sound medical information but will also enhance their practices and clinical reputation. Up to 75% of U.S. adults have access to the Internet, which has become the standard for immediate communication. In addition, 88% of Americans seek medical information online.
Study design: This article lists four of the most popular networking sites and discusses ways to use them effectively.
Facebook: This is the most popular social media website, with 845 million members. It allows two-way communication between a patient and a physician, a physician and another physician, and among patients. It allows the user to share links and filter the content that appears on its pages.
Twitter: With more than 200 million members, Twitter provides real-time social networking. It allows a user to broadcast short text messages to all who wish to follow a particular “tweet.” It is practical for making short announcements and recommending certain treatments, products, and services.
YouTube: Users can post video to their personal YouTube channels, such as surgical techniques, home care, rare pathologies, and procedure-related risks.
Blogspot: While similar to Twitter, Blogspot allows for much longer and more in-depth information. A user can direct a patient to a blog to review and develop a better understanding of a procedure or therapy.
Synopsis: Social media platforms are here to stay. Integrating social media into a physician practice will not only empower physicians and their staff and help enhance a practice by developing a good online reputation, but will also bring in a higher patient volume and provide patients with higher quality healthcare information through the easily accessible medium of the Internet.
Bottom line: Otolaryngologists are encouraged to incorporate social media into their practices.
Citation: Steehler KR, Steehler MK, Pierce ML, Harley EH. Social media’s role in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery: informing physicians, empowering patients. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013;149:521-524.