Should More Surgeons Be Using Social Media?

Posted on June 29, 2009 | by

Since we’re writers of a blog that pertains to specific Boston Plastic Surgery practice, we are certainly poised to take part in the discussion started by Dr. Pauline Chen in the New York Times. She writes, “I blog, I tweet and I use Facebook,” saying they are “enormously useful” tools for her work. Blogger Tara Parker-Pope responds by asking, “Do you think more doctors should be using social media?”

Keeping an open mind to new networking possibilities while focusing on the core responsibilities of your profession can be quite a juggling act. The overwhelming stream of information so characteristic of our age has led some people to shun networking tools that have become trendy, with Twitter perhaps being the most obvious example. For what professional purpose would a physician send out 140 character tweets? Well, there are a few reasons:

The value of social media for our surgical practice (this blog for example) is found in education, and in opening the channels for further correspondence. We want to let the community know what we’re doing and how we might be of service.

Dr. Christian Sinclair, who maintains a blog about palliative care, tells the NYTimes, “I can help to inform the public, I can put the knowledge I have out there. And if there are patients or families who need this knowledge, I can help them because of this network.”

Last month, we wrote a story about surgery consultations being done through video chat services and email correspondence, which was a perfect example of how surgeons and other physicians can use internet tools to connect with patients. When you’re seeking a physician with the right amount of expertise, getting out the yellow pages just won’t cut it anymore; it’s more convenient, and probably wiser, to get to know the doctor’s areas of expertise and surgical portfolio before scheduling a consultation, which in some cases may require traveling.

When it comes to the medical profession, the point is to provide a service, and for surgeons that service is actualized in the operating room. But that doesn’t mean surgeons shouldn’t augment the service they provide by using all the latest networking and communication tools this generation is so fortunate to have.