Friday, April 8, 2011

Social Media and Physicians

 

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Most physicians are now aware of Social Media. The game is still out if it will be incorporated into medical practice or hospitals. It has it's serious flaws in regard to privacy and HIPAA regulations. Apart from that restriction Social Media offers many choices and possible applications for a medical practice (clinic) or hospital setting,

Social media is a highly fluid niche. What began as a recreational hobby has evolved into a digital medium which has caught the eye of venture capital and others in the internet space.

Billions of dollars are being poured into startup ventures and some established media sites that have piddling cash flow at the moment. Their forecasted value is based upon world wide exposure and the attendant potential for advertising revenues. Most of the social media sites remain private equity companies and some are looking at IPOs. (Facebook).

Several social media sites have become lightening rods attracting companies building on APIs (application programming interface). (that is another story)

How are most practices dealing with this new phenomenon? It is a far cry from AOL's “You've Got Mail !!”

Many are dabbling with building their own Facebook pages, Twitter identities, and Blogs. Few physicians are either expert enough or have enough disposable time to dedicate to the medium personally.

There are several 'big time' medical bloggers such as KevinMD who are a presence enough to be interviewed by TV media, or published in the Wall Street Journal and other classical newsprint media. His blog has attracted enough industry attention and is monetized to deliver cash flow. His posts are repeated across other blogging venues and ranks very high in Google's search algorithm, and without SEO. (search engine optimization)

Physicians are a curious lot, especially when it comes to technology. Others are more intent on patient care and have little time to devote to this area. Personally I have enjoyed exploring and using social media, but then I am retired from clinical practice.

Some familiarity in order to plan if and when your practice should enter social media, and how you will use it.

Social media challenges medicine in it's use of arcane acronyms (abbreviations) as a 'secret' insider code. There are glossaries for Twitter acronyms and other social media sites. 1 2 3 .

Sage advice would be to have an 'expert' build your site. One of your children probably is expert at this, if not there, are many teenagers or young adults who are willing to do this for very little money or just the 'resume builder” Elance.com  is a freelancer writer web job board where many aspiring social media designers congregate.

Daily posting should be relegated to a knowledgeable ghost writer. Most are willing to work for about $5.00/ day (one post) It is as easy as dictating into your PC or laptop and sending the post as an mp3 file via an attachment email or an Instant messaging file. If you don't know how to do that, ask one of your kids, or younger employees.

Facebook vs. Twitter . They each have their own unique attributes and application.. Why not use both? Facebook can act much like an interactive web page with fields for comments, likes, photos, friends lists and more. Twitter is much more brief, short, to the point and readers can configure their site to follow you, much like a mini RSS feed.

A brief guide to social media, by Brian Solis also elaborates on the many other social media sites available.

Hope to see some of you at my twitter feed  @glevin1 or on Facebook,  facebook.com/garylevin

 

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