My latest USA Today op-ed was published this morning: Doctors ignore Internet at their own peril.
Social media websites that encourage reader interaction are playing an increasingly large role in providing information tailored to online patients. There are thousands of blogs and Facebook groups, for instance. And patients use Twitter to share tips on battling diabetes, or give advice on finding the right doctor or hospital.
But like a lot of the information on the Internet, not all medical content is credible. That’s where medical professionals can help patients decipher what is accurate on the web. And with 24% of Americans reading blogs, combined with 120 million monthly U.S. visitors to Facebook and Twitter, social media presents a compelling opportunity for doctors to better interact with patients.
And perhaps more important, doctors who fail to embrace social media risk becoming irrelevant, as more patients flock to the web as a source of health information, rather than endure the inconvenience of a doctor’s office:
Doctors who are not active online risk being marginalized. Facebook and Twitter users, half of whom are under of age of 34, rely on the web for most of their information. As this demographic ages, it’s conceivable that they will consult social media first to answer their health questions.
Enjoy the piece, and as always, I appreciate your comments.