Tweeting, Posting, Sharing: 3 Considerations for ASC Physicians and Social Media

At the 11th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain-Management Driven ASC Conference in Chicago on June 15, C. David Geier Jr., MD, an orthopedic surgeon and the director of MUSC Health at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, discussed three social media considerations for ASC physicians.   

According to Dr. Geier, 59 percent of Americans have looked for health information online in the past year, and 35 percent said they have gone online specifically to attempt to diagnose either themselves or someone else.

This behavior is quickly becoming the norm, said Dr. Geier. He said that the term ‘social media,’ will soon disappear, and sites like Facebook and Twitter will soon simply become means of communication like any other. “This is how people communicate now,” he said.

Since patients are already communicating online, physicians have the opportunity to join — and steer — the conversation. He offered three considerations for orthopedic surgeons establishing or expanding their online presence.

1. Criticism from patients. Dr. Geier said that even if physicians do not have an online presence, social media still affords patients the opportunity to criticize their physicians. “If people want to blow you up online, they can already do it,” he said. “But if you have a Facebook page, they’ll probably leave their comment there, giving you the opportunity to respond,” he said.

2. Communication with patients.
Dr. Geier reminded the audience that patients will want to communicate online, and it is up to the physician to set boundaries for communication outside of the office, hospital or surgery center. “You need to decide beforehand how you want patients to interact with you,” he said. He also emphasized that HIPAA, confidentiality laws and a sense of professionalism should still guide online communication.

3. Personal and professional social media accounts.
Before an organization launches its social media initiative, there should be a discussion about the distinction between physicians’ personal and professional accounts, said Dr. Geier. The ASC or other organization should issue guidelines regarding their policies and best practices, he said.

Dr. Geier said that not many ASCs have embraced social media, meaning there is a huge opportunity for those who establish a presence now to both start and steer the conversation. “Social media is important in healthcare, whether or not we admit it,” he said. “And because there’s not much out there right now, someone could really dominate this.”

More Articles on Social Media:

8 Ideas on Public Relations Programs for ASCs Without Large Marketing Budgets From Central Maine Orthopaedics
5 Ideas for Surgeons to Leverage Online Potential
Marketing an ASC: 7 Strategies to Reach Your Patient Base

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