Are you Facebook Friends with Your Doctor?

WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA: The morning my dental receptionist called me to confirm our appointment I’d been dreading sitting down in that chair.  My pain had grown worse and was keeping me awake at night - something had to be done.  A week before, I had gone in for a normal checkup and found out that I had three cavities and one needed a root canal.  My initial reaction was: “Fine.  How much will it cost and when do you knock me out and get this over with?”  To my dismay, the cost was around $3,500 and they would NOT be “knocking” me out…  Darn.  The first procedure was done in my normal dentist’s office and was as fun as 50% of a root canal can be.  My second procedure was done at another facility by another doctor called an Endodontist and after it was over, they let me loose on bustling Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.  I was groggy and disoriented from the Novocaine and kept wondering: Could I eat solid food? Could I even talk with all this gauze in my mouth? I’m sure this has happened to hundreds of other people, and it was not something I would ever want to do again.  In retrospect, it would’ve been worth researching/shopping around a bit more before selecting my dentist.*

WITH SOCIAL MEDIA: My chiropractor on the other hand was an entirely different experience.  She sent an email confirming my appointment and a friend request on Facebook?!  This seemed strange but I liked this personal touch and embraced it.  I later found out that through connecting to my doctor it made me more engaged me with the treatment.  Rather than one quick tune up and then pushing me out to make room for the next patient, my chiropractor treated me quite differently.  The $15 price tag was worth every penny!  She proactively followed up with me providing information about the pre-treatment and post-treatment best practices.  She had her contact information on Facebook and actually responded to one of my posts were I was complaining about back pain.  Every day I see something about the benefits of minding one’s posture in my newsfeed.  When there were postings about lower lumbar exercises, I paid special attention.  Passively connecting with my doctor through social media made me feel more involved with the treatment.  It helped me keep her advice at the top of my mind especially when sitting slumped over a computer…  “Straighten up and pull your shoulders back.”

In a recent healthcare article titled: “Social-ized Medicine” –they talk about the growing trend of patients connecting with doctors and communities to achieve a better state of health.  One twitter account: “@SeattleMamaDoc “Uses social media to help her patients understand all the information on the Internet, a lot of which is crap,” AND says “It's our job to counteract that.”  (ARTICLE)

Yes, doctors are very busy and they don’t have time to Tweet or Facebook all day.  But there IS a huge opportunity for them to connect with patients and deliver better care through passive messaging.  My back pain has gotten better with the chiropractors help, but I’m sure my teeth are not in as good of shape as my dentist would hope.  The discrepancy may stem from my Chiropractor’s passive influence on me through social media.  She talks to me where I hang out and where I can listen on my time.  There are hundreds of bogus medical advice services out there, and because I can go directly to someone I trust, it made my recovery much more effective.  The bank robber Willie Sutton said it best:  “If you want to have an impact, you have to go where the people are.”

*Fortunately YOU can start your search for a great dentist here: http://beta.hulihealth.com

by Julian Erickson

So, are you Facebook friends with your doctor? Got a similar story involving novocaine? Tell us about it in the comments! 

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