USA Today reports on the use (or avoidance) by doctors of social-networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Some cite medical privacy concerns as reasons to avoid social-networking sites.
Jeff Livingston, who spearheaded [one Irving, Texas, OB-GYN practice’s] venture into social media, also manages the @ macobgynTwitter account, which has about 1,600 followers. He sees Facebook as an educational and, perhaps just as important, marketing tool. “People are looking for information online,” Livingston says. “I wanted them to look at our page.”
But few doctors have embraced social media as enthusiastically as he has. Concerns about time and patient privacy have deterred many.
“No matter how you parse it, doctors don’t avoid the Internet and social media because they’re simply Luddites,” Westby Fisher, an Evanston, Ill., cardiac electrophysiologist, wrote last month on his blog, Dr. Wes. “They avoid the Internet because they enjoy the benefits of anonymity, privacy, efficiency and legal protection that come with dropping off the grid.” […]
As Nashua, N.H., internist Kevin Pho wrote in a USA TODAY op-ed piece in January, “there is little guidance on how physicians can incorporate (social media) into their medical practice.”
Acknowledging that problem, the American Medical Association’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs last month passed a resolution to “study the issue of physicians’ use of social networking, as exemplified on sites such as Facebook and Twitter” and report to the AMA’s House of Delegates at its meeting in November. […]
“If you go back two generations, doctors came to your house. They lived in your community. They probably went to the same church,” [Livingston says.]
With social media, he says, “what we’re really doing is going back and creating a more personal experience with technology.”