Social Media for a Surgeon: Interview

In my new series I ask medical professionals and e-patients about how they use social media presented through practical examples and suggestions (so far: a rheumatologist, a diabetes blogger, a GP and a pediatrician answered my questions, each of them is proficient in using social media). Now please welcome Howard J. Luks, MD, a social media star and also surgeon who uses social media with strategy and good skills. He told me what channels he uses daily and how he designs his online presence.

  • What social media channels do you use in your work and for what purposes?

Social Media has become very “cultural”. Certain platforms are found to be more useful by certain people. No one platforms suits everyones needs. Because my primary interest is in educating people around the globe I utilize Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google + and Pinterest to reach out to my audience.

I use twitter as an “inbound” tool for personal learning, as well as an outbound tool for “teaching” and sharing relevant content.
I use Facebook to share content, pictures, and I also use it as a tool to humanize my practice. By sharing photos and videos, I am able to show patients who I am as an individual and assist them in not only learning about orthopedics, but about me – as a physician.
Patients like taking in content in short video segments. I have found Youtube very useful in that regard. Google+ and Pinterest interest me and I’m exploring how best to utilize them to reach a global healthcare audience.

I have enjoyed using Doximity to interact behind a HIPAA compliant firewall with my colleagues on more sensitive topics as the healthcare landscape in US continues to evolve and change rapidly.

  • What do your patients think about social media? Do they use it?

15% of patients who visit my office have seen my website, Facebook page or Twitter account. Not a day goes by when someone doesn’t mention how comforting it is that I have that presence as it helps to build trust and initiate the relationship before we have even met. I share links and sites with patients when our interaction is over so that they may explore various sites to learn more about their orthopedic issue — and if they are comfortable with the idea, I encourage them to follow us on FB and Tw.

  • What social media sites do you think point towards the future of healthcare?

Hopefully the laws surrounding privacy change, and we develop platforms that are rooted in social media but enable us to better interact with our patients — which we really can not do today. Such sites would enable us to improve our ability to educate, answer specific questions, monitor adherence, predict who is at risk for a complication and hopefully they will enable us to assist patients to modify their unhealthy behavioral patterns.

  • What do you think about the curated Surgery and Social Media selection on For what reasons did you use it?

I think that you and your staff have done a wonderful job at curating some very useful feeds on Webicina. I refer patients here often. Many patients do not understand RSS feeds, etc so your platform enables them to benefit from the fact that the information is curated for them. As your platform matures, I would also like to see concentration on more keyword based searches and somehow provide a mechanism for the cream to rise to the top as determined by your readers and subscribers.