Editor's Note: This essay is part of our weekly #TimeLessWisdom series, in which we're highlighting one of the contributions from our 2012 book, Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care. Learn more about the series.
One of my mentors in residency told me the pediatrician’s handshake was different. Instead of grasping a child’s palm, pediatricians touch the top of a baby’s head, feeling the fontanelle or soft spot. Often, it’s one of the first things we do when we meet our new patients. As I see it, our handshake is changing again and is now different because of opportunities afforded by social media and innovative technology.
As a doctor, I firmly believe I have an obligation share my expertise and my experiences in understanding pediatrics online. Technology simply makes it easier. Medicine is far from static; being online allows me to share what I learn every week with my patients.
And my patients are online far more often than they are with me in the office, so instead of only exchanging ideas when they gown-up in exam room #4, I can join them where they already are—in social networks, on the Internet, on their smart phones, and on YouTube. The educational space extends beyond the examining room.
I also understand patients want intimate, personal, responsive, and empathetic care from doctors. All medicine can’t be practiced online. To accommodate this reality, I work part time seeing patients in a traditional clinic setting and part time using tools like Twitter, my blog, LinkedIn, Doximity, and YouTube to share what I know. Or what I’m learning.
In my mind, it’s obvious how technology builds a bond for my patients and for me. This isn’t one-sided; rather it’s bidirectional. Through social media, I feel more connected with science, with my mission to cure children, and with my patients. I give lots to technology. I get and learn far more in return. I would suspect my patients would echo this sentiment.
Technology provides these two essentials in my world as a pediatrician, mom, wife, and community member: