Doctors have a duty to engage in social media

Some physicians may be hesitant to participate in social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter.

Well, get over it.

Great post by pediatrician Bryan Vartabedian who addresses this topic. Indeed, physicians have lost control of the online message, especially with, according to recent data, 60+ percent of patients visiting the web first when looking for health information.

Instead, anti-vaccine proponents and homeopaths have embraced the Internet, and now exert tremendous influence on patients. We doctors have no one to blame but ourselves for being so slow to get online.

For example, consider this suggestion by Dr. Vartabedian:

There are 60,000 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Every pediatrician fights vaccine misinformation, especially as they relate to autism. Consider the fact that the first two pages of a Google search for vaccines and autism are polluted with anti-vaccine propaganda driven by a loud, socially-savvy minority. If every AAP member wrote a myth-dispelling post concerning immunization just once a year, Google would be ruled by reason.

That is the single best idea I’ve heard in awhile.  I hope organized medicine is listening.

Going forward, doctors need to incorporate social media into their practice, or better yet, learn some basic search engine optimization techniques for their websites. Without these skills, the medical profession risks losing further influence of the online message, as more patients will be persuaded by charlatans, who now rule the web’s health information.

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