Social Media From a Pediatrician Point of View: Interview

In the first part of my series (I ask medical professionals and e-patients about how they use social media presented through practical examples and suggestions), a rheumatologist and a diabetes blogger told us how they use social media day by day. Now here is Wendy Sue Swanson (Twitter) or Seattle Mama Doc, the social media superstar of pediatrics. She shared the way she uses social media in her practice and also what her patients think about her online activities.

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

I use my blog as the main space and place to educate. I make videos that live there, as well as on YouTube on a weekly basis, and I author 2-3 posts a week. I also use twitter on a daily basis –I share and opine about recent studies, traction for new work in the media, parenting advice. BUT MORE, I listen. I use twitter to research how moms/dads online are responding to controversial parenting topics and new findings, but also how they share about their own lives. I listen and learn from my incredible community there: world health experts, pediatricians, activated patients, bloggers, etc. It’s a place for me to grow, network and share my thinking. I am also on LinkedIn but I primarily use it as an inbox and a way to connect and network. I also spend time (less and less now) on Google Plus, Quora, and Doximity (an online community for physicians).

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

Well, my patients and I don’t talk a lot about social media, we talk mostly about health (care) for their children! But I often mention my blog to them on pertinent topics and they will stop me and say, “you don’t have to explain that, I already read about it on the blog!” Many times families will commiserate with me after they’ve read about my son’s being ill (on the blog) or reflect how they felt similar to posts where I describe the challenges of being a working parent. My blog allows a window not only into parenting advice, but into who I am as a person—something that is very relevant for forming a partnership between doc and patient. I’ve never surveyed my patients and their parents but we know that 98% of all adolescents are on Facebook—so are my patients using soc media—OF COURSE!

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

Likely the ones we don’t know about yet. As you know, there is an active and growing pulse in the start-up world working to form platforms and features to support current EMR systems and current sites for networking. Many physicians and health systems that are using social sites are using them for marketing more than education and direct communication with patients. When we figure out how allow for online communication to be a payable experience in health care is when we’ll see these communities really take off. I contend that virtual care is in the future job description of every pediatrician. Much of what we do in the office can happen more efficiently online. My hunch is there will be an add-on or app that utilizes Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or whatever is next (!) a family likes to live that allows them to share health information with their doctor, where they can learn from their physicians, and where they can coordinate their records and health decisions with family members. A community, just an online one is what’s needed.

I think it’s a good start to organizing resources and helping people navigate the internet and a nice resource for parents when they are looking to find a voice that resonates with them. The challenge with any collection and list like this is that individual’s commitments to publishing change (some blogs are just a landing page of traditional media and some aren’t actively added to or searchable) AND there are new additions (thank goodness) every week as more and clinicians enter this space. Hard to keep a list like this fresh, but also a start is the best place to begin.

LOVE IT! Didn’t know about it until today. Great space see an overview as a doc.