Use social media if for no other reason than to ‘Rebut all the crazy anti-vaxers’


Dr. Kevin Campbell is giving his fellow doctors a lesson so many of us need: Social media is your friend and it is very useful in business. It even can improve your health.

Campbell (@DrKevinCampbell), Dr. Jay lee (@FamilyDocWonk) and Ravi B. Parik (@ravi_b_parikh) gave a crowd of more than 100 physicians some Social Media 101 Saturday at the American College of Physicians Conference in San Diego.

Many doctors – about half — indicated they already are on Twitter and Facebook and were avidly tweeting, posting and writing blogs at the conference.

But the other half essentially remained silent, and Dr. Campbell and the others offered the basics course that anyone who does not use social media every day needs. He had us all take selfies to Tweet with the program hashtag, which I haven’t done yet. I only brought my phone to this session and I uninstalled social media off my phone long ago. I must set limits! While some do nothing with social media, others go overboard.

Campbell brought up a common concern cited about some doctors about why they stay off social media and don’t discuss their work: HIPAA. But the truth, Dr. Campbell explained, is that privately messaging a colleague about a patient does not violate HIPAA. “HIPAA is the elephant in the room,” he said. “You can’t talk about a patient in an open forum unless you change the sex, age, etc. You CANNOT be able to make that person identifiable.”

I always like to throw in that an extremely successful medical malpractice lawyer in my town always used to tell me, “There’s no such thing as HIPAA.”

Campbell even spoke of how social media software could catch key phrases from people tweeting and posting on social media to determine whether patients on certain medications are experiencing certain side effects.

For sure, it’s big brother. But if it’s your good big brother and improves your health, that’s just called technology.

“Use this tool as if this is your stethoscope,” he told his colleagues. “We really believe social media can be a boon to your practice and your patient’s care.”

Just how powerful is social media when it comes to disseminating information and influencing our world? Campbell cited an incident in 2013 in which the Associated Press’s Twitter account was hacked. The Tweet was that the White House had been attacked and it was unknown whether the president was dead or alive, Bloomberg reported.

Use social media to ‘rebut all the crazy anti-vaxers’

One thing doctors have used social media for is to remind patients of important public health events, such as when it’s time to get an annual flu shot.

Campbell pulled no punches on why doctors need to post on Facebook and send out tweets, “flu shot, flu shot, flu shot!”

“We need to rebut all the crazy anti-vaxers with the credible scientific evidence,” Campbell said.

But he also spoke of a special relationship he developed via Twitter with another doctor in the Philippines. He met @GiaSison via the global exchange of ideas known as Twitter as she was seeking some cardio expertise.

In the South Pacific, diabetes and hypertension rates are through the roof, Campbell explained. He offered her some advice on how to make things better for her patients. Now, they have such a special professional relationship that she was direct messaging Campbell on Twitter as she was in fear for her father’s life during a cardiac event. Campbell helped her through it.

“Engaging with physicians in the Philippines, to see the struggles they have, makes us appreciate being able to practice in the U.S. albeit we have tons of problems,” Campbell said.

He noted that with so much misinformation on the web, doctors need to be out there policing it and making sure their patients know fact from fiction.

“(Social media) affects politics, it affects the market, and our patients may be out there being harmed if we’re not speaking out on things that are untrue or important.”

The ACP released official numbers this morning on conference attendance. Close to 10,000 people participated, including 7,766 registrants for the scientific program. About 800 doctors from foreign nations attended.




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