We are entering, actually, we already are deep into the digital medical world without a clear and proven guide to ensure privacy. Patients themselves disclose ePHI about them on social media and other online platforms. Online social media such as Twitter and Facebook are growing so fast, there are millions of “healthcare and medical” related conversations going on. Rating the medical practitioner’s performance – real or perceived – and commenting on the experience while evaluating a physician office is by now a common occurrence.
As a medical practitioner you are being talked about online. So you do have an online presence, whether created by you, or by others without your input. At present, and even more importantly in the future …
“The relationship between patient and healthcare provider
will initially be created, strengthened
and then later maintained in the online sphere.”
Audun Utengen, Symplur, LLC
Some practitioners still question the need for medical groups to invest in online activities and fail to take action. Others have taken limited action and put up web pages, justifying the investment by saying “the internet is the new yellow pages”. We take a stand against both positions. These viewpoints fail to understand the very opportunities and threats that medical practices are facing from this industry shift.
Why is active participation in an Online Presence important for medical groups?
- Without investment in an online presence, practitioners have already given up control of the crucial first impression that patients will have of them as a physician and of their practice.
- With an “internet is the new yellow pages” mindset, clinicians have missed the opportunity and not recognized the consequences that social networking is bringing to the healthcare industry. There is no monitoring of and no participation in the conversations about they and their business.
- Essentially, medical practices can either take an active part in the online sphere and influence the perception and knowledge about them, or they can be part of the online sphere passively without any control or input.
People started out using the Internet to gather information, to read news, to consume. After some time secure and trusted technologies were developed, and we could start buying and paying online. These developments created technologies that allowed for more interactive content, two way communication. And this, in turn, allowed social networks to be created. Patients no longer just consume content. Patients actively create and share content online. And for the physician, there is no way to opt out.
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