In a recent press release, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) highlighted the results of a anonymous survey of 5,000 plastic surgeons in the May issue of their publication ‘Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery’. According to the study, as much as 50 percent of U.S. plastic surgeons are professionally active on Facebook, Twitter, and other leading social media sites.
Social media platforms are widely recognized as a powerful and dynamic tool by physicians, allowing them to educate, interact directly with patients and professional colleagues, and market their services. However, researchers point out that they should balance the benefits against the potential pitfalls of this virtual marketing medium.
The survey reported that cosmetic surgeons use social media the most and the Facebook was the most popular social media platforms followed by Linkedln, Twitter and You Tube. The surgeons cited the following reasons for relying so much on social media:
- It is an effective marketing tool as well as a useful forum for educating patients
- It offers low-cost advertising and high exposure for their practices
- Social media engagement led to positive feedback and encouraged patient referrals
While 1.5 percent of the surgeons reported that social media affected them negatively in the form of criticism and negative commentary from patients, they said that these negative effects did not pose any threat to their practice.
Surgeons who refrained from using social media said that that they did this to maintain professionalism, curb unrestricted access, and ensure confidentiality of patient information. In fact, about one-fourth of the surgeons support restricted social media usage. They feel that monitoring of plastic surgeons in the use of social media by the ASPS and other major governing bodies can result in more ethical online activities.
There’s no denying that social media is a great platform for physicians. Just a little caution can prevent a negative impact. Here are some useful rules:
- Educate your patients to positively impact their lifestyle behavior
- Be accurate in whatever you post, whether it’s an article or a blog
- Never post anything that reveals a patient’s identity
- Anything you post online cannot be deleted – so proceed with caution
- Draw a line when it comes to ‘friendships’ with patients
- Educate yourself and stay updated.
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