Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How Health Professionals Succeed at Social Media

We’ve often spoken about the health industry adopting social media, and now it seems that someone has been listening to those calls. Docs are flocking to social media in record numbers, outpacing other American adults by up to 22%. Now that they’ve arrived, however, it seems that there is some dissension on what to do with it.

Patricia Redsicker, a social media professional, looked at three well-known physicians to see how they were handling their online presence.

While they’re all very professional, both Dr. Oz and Dr. Rankin show a more like-able side on Facebook, while Dr. Gupta hardly gives his fans a chance to get to know him. However on Twitter, he is extremely personable, chats with people and seems to ‘listen’ to what others are saying as well.

Redsicker found very little variation between these well-known online presences, but we think she didn’t go deep enough. These doctors, though all experts in their own right, are more celebrity than professional at this point. We were curious to see what health workers at the lower ranks were doing with their new-found social media profiles.

Most of the professionals we located used what Kevin Pho, MD refers to as the ‘dual-citizenship approach.’ By maintaining a personal profile, and a professional ‘page,’ docs can enjoy the benefits of social media without risking compliance or HIPAA issues. Patients and colleagues would connect with the doctor through their professional page, while their family and friends could converse separately on their personal profile.

Other docs preferred a more drastic angle, opting instead to avoid a personal presence entirely, using their personal profile as their sole professional gateway. To us, it seemed that those docs utilizing the dual-presence system were almost universally more successful.

At the end of the day, social media is about creating a personable, but controlled, presence online, and we think that the dual-citizenship approach is more successful  for that purpose.

Are you a medical professional using social media? Tell us below how you handle the delicate issue.


Pam Argeris is a thought leader in the Healthcare Industry and possesses extensive, hands-on experience with CMS compliance, and multiple regulatory bodies such as NCQA, JACHO, and DOI. In her role at Merrill Corp., Pam focuses on developing solutions for compliance and quality assurance, delivered in a cost effective manner to improve beneficiary and prospect communications. You can contact Pam at

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