Katherine Chretien, MD, chief of the hospitalist section at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center, described the growing use of crowd-sourcing and social media in medicine, by both physicians and patients. More than half of patients, a survey found, said that they are comfortable or very comfortable with their doctor seeking advice online. And about half of hospitals have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Foursquare.
With the growing use of social media, though, comes the importance of knowing etiquette and being aware of the legal pitfalls, Dr. Chretien said. Posting specifics, even without names, about a case might violate patient privacy laws simply because the date of the post might give away too much information, she warned. Mixing the personal and the professional is not advised.
Peter Balingit, MD, a hospitalist at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center who said he doesn’t use social media for his work, said the session raised his confidence, and he might start a Facebook page or begin interacting through a patient portal.
“After hearing this, I think I’m more comfortable trying to develop more of an online presence,” he said. “My biggest fear is trying to keep my personal life and my professional life separate.” TH