If you needed any more proof that we as a society—including the urgent care industry—are firmly entrenched in the internet age, here it is: A prestigious academic health system has appointed its first chief medical social media officer. As noted in an article recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Harvard-trained gastroenterologist Austin Chiang, MD is now tasked with helping Jefferson Health/Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia stay on point with a clinically relevant social media presence. Also the president of a nonprofit group called the Association for Healthcare Social Media, Chiang says in the JAMA article healthcare providers are behind the times in realizing the power of social media to influence patients’ lives. Since those patients are already getting a lot of information online from less-than-trustworthy sources, Chiang reasons that the medical profession has an obligation to counter with solid information that could improve people’s lives and the way they manage their own health. He’s even created a hashtag (#VerifyHealthcare) on Instagram and Twitter to highlight the fact that there are individuals falsely claiming to be physicians online, and relying on the inherent trust in those claims to spread false health information (ostensibly for commercial gain in some cases). The hashtag is intended to remind everyday users to consider that the person whose advice they’re ready to follow may not be who they say they are, and may not have any idea what they’re talking about. The flipside of the hashtag is that physicians and other professionals should be proactive in sharing their own qualifications in order to build trust. “We wanted to encourage everyone to disclose their training and credentials and encourage followers to double- and triple-check who they were trusting online,” he’s quoted as saying in JAMA. JUCM was ahead of the curve on this topic from an urgent care practice management standpoint. For insights into the value of social media in today’s healthcare marketplace, read Use Digital Marketing and Social Media to Attract and Engage New Urgent Care Patients and Calculating the Value of a Like: The Muddled ROI of Facebook Advertising in our archive.
A Call for Clinicians to Up Their Social Media Game—for the Safety of Their Patients