At our most recent Advisory Board meeting, I talked to a dozen doctors about their take on whether there’s a risk that true experts are being drowned out and diluted by social media influencers, Dr. Google, and the like. I was struck by their largely positive outlook for the future of expertise in their fields of medicine.
Aesthetic doctors view social media, video and the Internet as their virtual podium that allows their insights and points of view to be heard by thousands, if not millions. “There’s a huge opportunity here because we have more access” to channels for communicating directly with consumers and patients, Dr. Johnny Franco told me. “But we need to take leadership.”
While the risk of fakers and posers stealing mindshare is real, the doctors shared a belief that social media introduces transparency, where ultimately the truth comes out with time.
On the whole, doctors see online resources as integral to educating consumers rather than as a source of dumbing down and misinforming the patient. “In plastic surgery, I think [social media] can lead to a better educated, better informed patient,” Dr. Richard Reish told me. Dr. Elizabeth Whitaker concurred: “A lot of people coming online have done a lot of research—[they’ve] done their homework.” (You can watch snippets from all dozen doctors in the video below.)
What I found striking is that these sentiments were shared by many of you in our Hey Seery audience. Here are just a handful of the comments that landed in the Hey Seery inbox.
- Maggi Lepore of San Jose-based Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Associates said offering quality information on social media tells patients you genuinely care about their education—and helps inoculate patients against bad information elsewhere: “It will give them a basis to question providers who don’t emphasize training and experience,” she wrote.
- The theme of accepting that social is here to stay, and choosing to participate instead of pushing back against change, was also voiced by Dr. Steven J. Pearlman. “There is no way to combat the trend of…social media stars,” Dr. Pearlman wrote. “Instead of getting despondent, combat them with quality.”
- The importance of adopting a “patient first” mindset came up several times in my Ad Board conversations. It was also a theme in the Hey Seery inbox: “Putting the patient first should be (or become) the primary expertise of all those who care for patients,” Dr. Alan Levy offered. Dr. Richard Sadove echoed this idea, boiling it down this way: “Take the time to get to know people and demonstrate sincere care and concern to do the right thing.”
I’m biased—I clearly have a dog to hunt in the conversation about the influence of social media and the web. This is also a complex issue, and there’s a lot more surface area to explore.
But the tide is certainly changing from when I began RealSelf and heard quite loudly that posting on the web was professionally risky, too self promotional, and potentially unethical. And I’m seeing more confidence from real-deal medical experts that they can use that very quality of expertise to win in the arena of social media.
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