Social media may mean different things to different people.
One element could be a bulletin board or forum, where relationships develop over months or even years, while another could be the quick flash of a 'take-it-or-leave-it' Tweet. It can be media rich and socially enveloping like Facebook, or a staid professional networking environment like LinkedIn.
Many surgeons have little idea how to become involved in social media at all and are even unsure about what it is. And I can understand that because it has become the medium of a younger faster generation.
Knee surgeons and social media
Knee surgeons and clinics initially responded with paper handouts of the sort of problems commonly experienced in their offices. This was a useful advance but not of the sort of viral power of real social network.
Medical websites appeared where knee surgeons were invited to present their content.
The surgeons then started to make their own websites, although this was slow to develop largely because of the professional bodies frowning on any form of self promotion, although there is a big difference between an informative website with contact details and the surgeon's curriculum vitae and flagrant self-promotion.
It fact is becoming common now for knee surgeons to professionally introduce themselves via a video, such as this YouTube video from knee surgeon Peter Millett, which is also embedded on his own website. His Clinic's Facebook Page is imaginative and interesting, and the Twitter feed has a good number of followers.
YouTube itself has become thoroughly embraced as an education platform, as this series of videos from orthopaedic surgeon Nabil Ebraheim demonstrates. He uses his Twitter page to draw attention to new videos, which duplicates the role of the 'subscribe' button on YouTbe and he does not seem to have made really good use of his Facebook page. I think this mirrors what most surgeons are finding - that one is drawn to one or other of these new media and it takes a while to learn the optimal ways of using them.
Dr Howard J Luks' 'Tips for getting started'is a very useful guide for any doctor planning to invest time in social media.
The surgeon's website should include at least -
- Clear contact details with a map, and details about access
- A simple email form
- A biography that includes the work they routinely undertake and those areas in which they have a special interest
- When they qualified
- Board certifications or their equivalent in other countries
- Specialist training fellowships and with whom
- What languages they are fluent in
- The insurances they accept
Many of the surgeon websites I look at are frustrating as they list every honour and every position the surgeon has ever held, but fail to mention what procedures the surgeon routinely performs or even how to make an appointment. Once a site has been well-crafted for the benefit of patients, it can link to other social network content the surgeon has produced for the benefit of patients (on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or any other medium). These media should be focused upon the particular disorders in which the surgeon has an acknowledged skillset - not random posts and re-posts that have no direction. Patients are interested in 'getting to know' their knee surgeon's interests and expertise before they make the appointment.