To Friend or Not to Friend… Your Physician on Facebook

For better or worse, social media is part of today’s world and plays an important role in the way many of us communicate and share information. Look through a few Facebook statistics and you quickly realize the magnitude of social media communications in our daily lives.

  • Total number of Facebook users: 1.26 billion
  • Average time spent on Facebook per day: 20 billion minutes total
  • Total number of Facebook friend connections: 150 billion
  • Number of Facebook messages sent daily: 10 billion

Based on these stats, it’s easy to assume that sharing photos and life events with family and friends via Facebook is pretty commonplace. Does that same ‘comfort in sharing’ apply to the more personal areas of our lives, like our healthcare?

As a healthcare professional I’m always curious about the answer to that question, so I participated in research that asked 100 random US health consumers their thoughts on friending their personal physician on Facebook.

Health consumers were asked…  Would you ‘friend’ your personal physician on Facebook? Feel free to tell us why or why not in the comment section.

27% ‘liked’ the idea of friending you physician on Facebook, while 73% gave it a thumbs down. Facebook Pie Chart

Interesting results when you think of the volume of personal information already being shared on Facebook. Yes and no responses aside, the real insights can be found in the comments. There were privacy concerns and big brother issues, input on other social media options and feedback from those who think friending their doc could be helpful.

Would you friend your physician on Facebook?
Health Consumer Comments…
  • Just don’t want to the chance of any personal info ending up on FB for all to see! Why chance it!
  • I have some health issues that I DO NOT want on Facebook.
  • Not comfortable using social media in my health dialogue, emails are ok but not public things like Facebook.
  • Sure, maybe I’ll get a little more attention.
  • I think friending your personal physician on Facebook would be beneficial for the purpose of building stronger relationship. In addition, you could also get information related to your medical situation from a good source especially if the physician likes to engage on social networks.
  • Good way to get more personalized attention.
  • Connecting on Facebook does not mean sharing personal data, it simply means connecting and hopefully improving communication.
  • Social communications are the future & I want to be ‘talking’ to my health circle!
  • Is my doctor even on Facebook? I can’t email the office for anything (phone only) so hard to believe he is on Facebook.
  • Perhaps but not sure I would want him to see everything I do.
  • Wonder what insurance implications might be?
  • Difficult question, will my insurance company see this? Will my doc use what he sees there against me?
  • I’d be worried my insurance company or employer would see my personal health info.
  • No but I would follow him on Twitter.
  • I’d rather friend him on G+. I like the platform and dialogue on G+ much better than FB.

What are your thoughts? Would you friend your physician on Facebook? Drop us a line and let us know how you feel about Facebook and social media use in health care.

This post originally appeared on CROWDTalk.

My Patient Engagement Wish List for 2014

Over the last few months I have been actively involved in the ongoing bigstock-Close-up-of-human-hand-holding-56653880discussion around patient engagement. I’ve been doing a good deal of reading on the topic and have connected with some amazing ePatients.

A company that I helped co-found, InCrowd, was a partner in the webinar series Pathways to Patient Engagement. As part of the sponsorship, I queried Crowds of patients and healthcare professionals, getting their feedback on the current state of patient engagement. The data collected was eye opening to say the least.

Pathways to Patient Engagement: Insights From the Physician Community
Do Gen Xers and Millennials hold the key to success for the Affordable Care Act?

In June I have the honor of presenting on the global state of patient engagement at the Doctors 2.0 & You conference. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to share feedback from patients and healthcare providers around the globe.

All of this has me thinking about the future of patient engagement and where I, as a healthcare professional myself, would like to see patient engagement head in 2014.

My Wish List for Patient Engagement

-Healthcare systems, providers and physician practices will hire Patient Engagement Healthcare Specialists to drive patent engagement activities. Some of their efforts might include:

  • Establishing a securing texting program for patients interested in this communication channel
  • Creating a text, email or app based reminder program for healthy eating, weight loss, exercise, BP and stress management, diabetes control, adherence to treatment plans…
  • Sharing relevant and individualized medical education information via the patient’s portal
  • Educating patients on tools and programs the practice provides
  • Following-up after each office visit to see that patient’s needs were met

-The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) begin to include real engagement tools in Meaningful Use. This could include:

  • Patient/HCP life style agreements
  • Educational information around lab test results and common procedures, enabling people to truly understand the health implications of the information
  • Requiring appropriate and individualized medical education information be provided via the patient portal
  • Taking engagement beyond the portal; move on to apps, mHealth tools, educational classes, easy email communications, electronic prescription refills…

Interesting article on this topic: There’s Nothing Engaging About My First Patient Portal…It’s Actually Pretty Disengaging

-Skype or a simple but secure communications tool becomes a commonplace platform for interactions between patients and healthcare staff. This could be used for:

  • Simple Q&A
  • Discussions around lab and test results
  • Easy and fast prescription refills
  • Maintaining engagement between office visits
  • Progress check-ins
  • One-on-one review of procedures patients have been taught (dressing changes, self injections), review of educational information that was provided…

-Health apps become mainstream and are used as a collaboration tool between the patient and their healthcare team.

  • Healthcare professionals prescribe them, suggest them during office calls, include them in educational materials, offer downloads via patient portals
  • Patients and healthcare professionals interact through the apps
  • Health information is tracked, progress is monitored, success and milestones are recognized via the app

I will admit some of the things on my list might not be considered true patient engagement activities but I do believe they are a step in the right direction. These activities provide an opportunity to create and cultivate a connection between patients and healthcare providers. A connection that can drive better health outcomes and isn’t that what we all want.

What’s on your patient engagement wish list?

This post originally appeared on CROWDTalk