By Amanda Guisbond, @agbond
I am admittedly a slacker when it comes to scheduling annual doctor visits. Even if I do manage to keep on top of appointments, I end up seeing my primary care physician for about 15 minutes tops once a year. Having switched doctors in the past year, I couldn’t confidently tell you my new doctor’s full name without quickly checking a list of physicians online (whoops).
It’s probably no surprise then that so many adults find it difficult to speak candidly with their physician about personal concerns. This sense of trepidation can potentially have serious health consequences. Depression, lack of sexual appetite, cigarette smoking and poor exercise regimens have all been cited as health problems that patients don’t tell their doctors about. This is in part due to the patient-physician disconnect and the lack of a stronger relationship that would create a comfort zone for patients when sitting in a medical robe, facing a rapid fire short-list of questions about their everyday life. Visits with a doctor are often between 8 and 20 minutes – not necessarily enough time to have a thorough conversation about needs, concerns and to answer questions.
So, how can physicians and health care providers create stronger connections with patients outside of occasional visits, to improve the patient-physician relationship? Heres one idea
Facebook. Imagine if your hospital or health care provider had a Facebook fan page, and your physician had a related blog tab or actively contributed to the page? What if your physician went so far as to have their own Facebook page where they posted news and advice, or answered your questions online?
I’m not saying these things are easy. Establishing an authentic, consistent social media presence is labor-intensive. Not to mention the obvious concerns about privacy, HIPAA and other regulations that make certain patient-physician communications more complicated. But what if you could connect with your patients, in real-time, no matter how few and far between their visits may be? Wouldnt that help improve the connection you make once a year in the waiting room?
For me, the social media remedy would be comprised of short, pithy messages that connect you to your healthcare provider – something like:
Notification: Your hospital just sent you a private Facebook message reminding you your annual visit is coming up. Would you like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith? If so, just call us at 123-4567! We’re looking forward to seeing you.
Status update: Congratulations to Dr. Smith on 20 years of service from the folks at Best Hospital! Do you have a Dr. Smith story or note you’d like to share? Comment here or email her directly at email@example.com.
Wall post from Dr. Smith: Hi everybody! I’ll be on vacation next week but Dr. Jones will be taking my appointments – for those who don’t know Dr. Jones, she has more than 20 years of experience at the hospital. Please give her a warm hello for me, I’m looking forward to seeing you all in a couple weeks.
Many hospitals are already doing this to some extent, to maintain ties to their local community and to continue to act as a trusted resource for accurate health information. However, there is still room for improvement in terms of engaging patients and caregivers, providing direct access to physicians, and cultivating the patient-physician relationship in the social media realm.
What are some ways you think hospitals can foster the patient-physician relationship online, whether through a hospital’s own web presence or by creating distinct, separate platforms for physician-patient interaction?
Stay tuned to for an upcoming post that will provide our top five tips to cut the time associated with physician-patient Facebook communication.
IBM’s Solar Servers
Featured on EcoPressed
Eco World Content From Across The Internet.