2009-12-31

the good doctors at Health 2.0


Pulmonologist & Intensivist at Novant Health:
Speaking as a physician, I see many attempts to engage via email in particular.
Others attempt via discussions such as on Sermo.
The reality is that physicians time is increasingly at a premium.
Given the concern today with undue influence on physicians,
I don't see many engaging with outside entities.
I think those in groups really tend to
turn inward to their own colleagues.
We cannot continue in a vacuum from the outside world.
While medicine (and healthcare in general) is not a free-market economy,
we can still and in fact must benefit from the outside world.
We have begun to see the drift of six sigma/TPS/lean methodologies into the market
but physicians are generally a cautious bunch and are, as individuals,
slow to adopt to these changes. I am also not convinced that the C-suite inhabitants
in all Healthcare organizations have yet grasped this 'new reality

Time is at a premium; many don't use smartphones (distraction),
don't give out cellphone #s to patients
and (dirty little secret) use pagers/faxes to filter calls.
(I speak with my brother's colleagues--mainly psychiatrists--
and that is how they manage patient calls which aren't urgent.)
In the older group,
many avoid email and being online till they retire!
It is not just the 50+.
I am a little surprised at the responses so far.
We use social media in our practice daily.
We do no communicate personal health information this way
but use it as a way to spread information and for brand building.
It also creates a feeling of access for our patients.
We also use a practice portal
which gives patients full access to their chart.
The portal also has a feature that allows secure messaging
(HIPAA compliant Email). We have patients emailing the docs, nurses,
scheduling appts online, requesting refills etc.
None of our doctors would say this impacts thier ability to work
or takes too much time. It is much more efficient to communicate this way.
Think about how fast a nurse can contact a patient
with lab results, explanation and direct them to pick up the medication
which was sent electronically to their designated pharmacy.
This is much faster than playing phone tag.
Patients are very respectful with online communication in our practice.
Most questions are directed to nursing staff first.
From a doctors perspective,
this form of communication allows me to handle simple questions quickly and easily.
It also generates more productive appointments.
I have heard nothing but praise from our patients
since we integrated this into our practice.
I invite all of you to join the weekly discussion
on topics like this on Twitter.
There is a group that meets on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. Central.
The easiest way to join in is to go to tweetchat.com
and log in to the room #HCSM (health communication and social media)
It is a very good group. I have learned alot from them.