Social Media: Making (or Breaking) the Doctor-Patient Relationship

“I saw my doctor’s tweet last night and I didn’t like what he had to say. It’s really making me think twice about going back to his clinic for my next checkup!”

I wonder, has there ever been a patient who stopped seeing his doctor, not because of anything he did in the clinic, but because of something he did in social networks? The thought of having one’s reputation tarnished just because of a carelessly composed tweet or Facebook post is something that does keep some healthcare professionals up at night.

That kind of thing makes one assume that social media can hurt the doctor-patient relationship. Is this assumption accurate?

That blog post about the late doctor and the angry patient

You’ve probably seen this blog post circulating last year – that’s because it went viral after several doctors shared it on their Facebook accounts. The blog post focuses on a doctor venting his frustrations about bearing “the brunt for everything that goes wrong in a patient’s life”.

“You are probably right. We are inconsiderate. We are inconsiderate for abandoning our health so you could be healthy,” the author said.

Perhaps the doctors who shared this blog post on their Facebook accounts sympathized with the doctor in the blog post as he shared his woes about being reprimanded by his patient after he came late to work. Perhaps they had something they wanted to say to their patients that, as professionals, they couldn’t quite get off their chests – and sharing a blog post on Facebook was the next best thing.

Whatever their reasons, one thing was clear: Doctors use social media to let off steam… even if it means expressing their frustrations about how their patients treat them.

Temperance vs Transparency: Finding balance

Many proposals have been aired to prevent the erosion of the patient-physician relationship because of online activity, from social media guidelines to hospital policies that absolutely prohibit employees from talking about work. It makes one wonder, what’s the best way to promote a healthy exchange between patients and doctors via social networks?

For the upcoming tweet chat, let’s focus on these topics about the doctor-patient relationship and its fate in the hands of social media.

  • T1. Guidelines vs Censorship: Which is better in protecting the doctor-patient relationship?
  • T2. How should doctors express their emotions online without alienating patients?
  • T3. What should we do if we see fellow healthcare professionals complaining about patients online?

#HealthXPh tweet chat tomorrow: Save the date!

We can’t wait to learn from each other’s diverse inputs! Tomorrow, we focus on the above topics as we continue to use social media as a brainstorming tool – and we don’t even have to leave our seats!

Save the date: March 7, 2015, 9 to 10 PM (Philippine time) or 8 to 9 AM (EST). Important reminder: Don’t forget to use the hashtag #HealthXPh to join the Twitter discussion! We are looking forward to another wonderful Twitter chat!