Thanks for the question VJHudson. For the answer, I decided to turn to Jeff Livingston, M.D. a partner at the Irving, Texas-based MacArthur OB/GYN, an obstetrics and gynecology practice, is one of the leading advocates of provider-based social media interaction in the industry. As a true expert, Dr. Livingston is my go-to-guy when it comes to discussing the impact social media will have on the world of medicine. Here's his answer.
Physician engagement in social media has been on an upward trend for the past few years and is almost certain to continue. Physicians are recognizing the importance of online reputation mangement and see social media as one tool. Others enjoy the platform provided by social media to offer patient education on a scale never imagined. Certain practices use social media because of the branding power that drives new patient acquisition and improves current patient satisfaction. The social media doctors understan that one can expand the doctor patient relationship beyond the four walls of the office. The market for virtual telehealth visits is likely to continue to grow and linking to social networks is a logical step. Health IT vendors have an opportunity build a bridge between cumbersome and frustrating HIPAA compliant secure messaging systems to direct physician to patient social media platforms. Current HIPAA regulations have stagnated growth in this area but the market is begging for a solution. State to state variations on telehealth laws lag behind technological advances and market pressure. Rapid changes in regulatory rules are needed to allow the currently available technology to meet market expectations.