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March 23rd, 2011

Why…

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Why Are You Active in Social Media?

This is by far (still) the number one question I am asked by reporters, columnists, other health care providers, etc. That in and of itself shows how far *we* have to go! I tend to be an early adopter of technology —when encountered with a new and intriguing technology I try to figure out if it fits into my workflow, enables my workflow or allows me to be more efficient or even a *better* doctor.  It soon became obvious that many social media platforms would fit very easily into my daily workflow.

Contrary to popular belief … I had no *exit strategy* in mind. My decision to further my interests in health care and social media wasn’t a simple conscious decision.  As an innately social person — and physician I always enjoyed sharing information with people/patients in my office utilizing various digital or analog modalities.  It almost seems as if my foray into social media and health care was simply destined to happen. Did I enter the healthcare and social media intersection for an immediate ROI and an increase in patient load?  No!   For me—there was a larger purpose that goes all the way back to why I wanted to be a doctor in the first place.  It was a far more altruistic endeavor than most believe.

When I initially entered the *intersection*  of social media and healthcare , construction of the intersection had only just began.  There were a few of us there talking about the possibilities and the enabling nature of the technology — but initially that was it.

  • What ifs….?
  • What about….?
  • How about….?

It would be many months before some of the many brilliant minds I have met online started to focus their energies, resources and capital which enabled them to break free of what soon became a well populated echo chamber. I teach (and learn) all day.  I teach students. I teach residents. I teach nurses. I teach patients (people). I teach attorneys and juries too.   It was a logical progression for me to adapt to these online platforms for what seemed to be the purpose of teaching others what I know about Orthopedic Surgery and Healthcare.

As I became more comfortable online, I began to initiate searches as if I were a patient.  I did not like what I found.  I found the majority of the information available to be commercially biased, out-dated,  factually lacking, self promotional — and occasionally just plain wrong. That cemented my desire to try and play a larger role in the social media and healthcare community.

As my online presence has evolved I now have the privilege to share what I know with many, many colleagues, interested observers, the press, pharma, commercial clients and patients, too.  My affiliations have enabled me to reach audiences all over the world via webinars, live panels or discussions and as an invited lecturer.

Along the way I have also learned a lot!  There are many truly wonderful and gifted writers, bloggers and twitter *friends* who love curating content from all over the web to present it in a simple micro-blogging stream that enables me to stay up to date in many areas where I would have fallen behind if it weren’t for those I chose to follow. After all, the only way to improve the value of the content available online is to continually engage with my colleagues, patients and other experts in the field of health care. Furthermore, other health care providers initiate an online presence everyday.  Some may elect to establish a digital footprint with a blog or website full of actionable, timely, and factually correct information. The more *good* quality healthcare online content that is available ---the better it is for ALL of us —  one day we will look in the mirror and see a patient looking back at us.

Howard Luks, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon who blogs and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

Tags: Physician Involvement, Uncategorized

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