Doctors On Social Media: Humanizing The White Coat
White coat syndrome is real. Patients I spoke with report an increase in blood pressure, stress, fear, anxiety, and deference once they enter a doctor’s office. Doctors are often viewed as all-knowing, unflappable, and distant outside of the office. Do you remember the first time you saw one of your teachers in a social setting? The idea of teachers being “normal” was new. Similarly, Doctors, once outside of their office, may still not be viewed as accessible. They hold knowledge, speak a different language, often understood only by those in the medical field. Removing the shroud of mystery surrounding medicine is integral to understanding healthcare. The use of social media by doctors is important to accomplish this goal. Social media provides a platform for doctors to bring medicine every day. Social media is more than selfies, pictures of meals, and memes; it can be a constructive tool to raise awareness and understanding. It also provides insights to treatment effects, options, and health tips. Doctors who use social media also have the chance to highlight causes they believe in, new technology, and innovative procedures. They have the opportunity to reach hundreds, if not thousands of people and educate them on why treatments are chosen and the benefits of certain treatments.
Doctors who use social media post before and after surgery pictures without violating HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act demystify treatments. They use pictures and explanations to encourage conversations. People are afforded the chance to ask questions, read about treatments, and understand why procedures are chosen.
Social media is a leveling tool for patients and doctors. Another aspect of social media is the humanization of doctors. Many doctors take the moment they have with their followers to tell them about their story. Some doctors explain why they chose the field of medicine and what led them to their specialty. Others, like Dr. Todd Hanna, MD, DDS, FACS, mix together their personal and professional lives to be accessible to their followers. They strip away the white coat and all the anxiety associated with seeing a doctor. Followers learn about their successes and failures in workouts, diets, and life.
This isn’t to say doctors who use social media strip their lives for all to see. It is with a certain understanding between the doctor and the followers that some parts of their lives are private and will remain private. The act of opening an account, showing, interacting, and explaining the how and why behind treatments grants followers a peek inside their world. Doctors who are accessible via social media have the platform to create discussion. The discussion on social media may make a follower more comfortable asking their own doctor questions.
Social media is a powerful tool that, when used properly, opens lines of communication between people. Doctors who use social media work to educate others. The feeling of being relaxed enough to ask questions, investigate treatment options, and relate to a doctor does have a collateral effect of the field of medicine. Medical professionals, especially doctors, are humanized. The humanization of doctors is integral to building and strengthening the doctor-patient relationship.