Blog | Friday, September 4, 2009

Why can't we be friends ... on Facebook?

Doctors may have nothing to fear about patients reaching out for medical advice via social media.

CNN profiled patients and physicians who've used Facebook to stay in contact with their patients--either for information or for routine clinical contact such as prescription refills. Social media has been a subject of much discussion but not much clarity. While a majority of ACP members use some form of social media personally and professionally, they also have expressed their concerns about privacy and trying to diagnose patients who need face-to-face visits instead.

Plenty of doctors have avoided patient contact even over e-mail, thinking it to be just one more unreimbursed time-drain. (Others have adopted it wholeheartedly: see here and here.)

But doctors may have nothing to worry about after all. Although the article cited surveys that found half of consumers want to be able to e-mail their doctors, a reader survey on CNN's home page showed that, among 240,000 respondents who'd voted through mid-day Friday, only 11% responded that they would want to contact their doctor through social media.