Today I am releasing a white paper that has been nearly a year in the making. It took a long time because I actually put a lot of thought and effort into it! It is called The Social Physician and covers what I believe signals a change in physician mindset – the willingness to engage publicly about matters of medicine from health delivery to reform to health literacy to patient responsibility. I’ve been quietly following the emergence of physicians who blog, tweet and post video over the past couple of years. Having worked with doctors for nearly two decades, it amazed me that some would be comfortable airing views so publicly. My experience has always been that doctors talk to each other but not really outside the circle. But today physicians are getting social. I was curious what was driving this change. To find out I decided to interview ten doctors around the country who are actively engaging in social media. Some will be familiar names to those among the social health intelligentsia – physicians like Dr. Kevin Pho of KevinMD.com, Dr. Val Jones of BetterHealth.com and @EndoGoddess a/k/a Dr. Jen Dyer, a pediatric endocrinologist. But others may be new names to you, like Dr. Richard Just, a leading medical oncologist in southern California who has been practicing for 35 years, and Dr. Felasfa Wodajo, a bone and soft tissue tumor surgeon in northern Virginia who does double blog duty at OrthoOnc and iMedicalApps.
The exploration was fascinating and led me to findings that I had not really expected. Physicians embrace the social sphere for many reasons, as you’ll see when you read the paper, but the majority do so to connect with patients. It’s not about practice marketing or patient acquisition, though. It’s about being able to use their hard-earned knowledge in a way that helps people and pushes medicine forward. I am more optimistic now than I have been in a long time about the future of medicine, and the nature of the physician-patient relationship.