Last summer, I joined millions of others in the deluge of social media. I committed one year of effort to see if social would enhance or distract from my pediatric practice. That was my goal, just one year. At that time, I wanted to dip my foot in the pool, and see if it made any ripples. The unexpected consequence of this past year is how much social media has changed my medical practice, and me. Ripples have returned as tidal waves.
My practice has seen tangible, real valuable benefits. I have been intellectually challenged, and have professionally grown.
For my day in clinic:
- Investing time in relevant and complete posts actually saves me time in the long run. Questions I am repeatedly asked, like “How do I start solid foods?”, can be answered quickly and completely by directing them to my site. This saves face-to-face clinic time for more specific concerns for their child.
- Selectively following leaders in the field of pediatrics has allowed me to refresh and update my knowledge daily. The lead article in medical journals, the newest recall, the updated reports are in my information stream. Sharing the headlines and reports that will most assist my patients continues the information stream in real time.
- I can get help for my patients across the country through online professional connections, and I have experts at my fingertips who can help me answer questions.
For my patient families:
- I can actively communicate, acknowledge, and positively influence the choices that my families make for their children between the checkups. My anticipatory guidance can be repeated, reinforced, and repeated again.
- New websites, blogs, and apps are constantly being added to our fingertips. After review, I can refer my patients to some really cool, applicable tech options for better health care. I would never know about this stuff if I was not involved with social.
- I can be a source of reliable, real information.
- Being part of the health social media and blogging community has given me a connection and an outlet. I can express myself as a physician and a mom, creating a diary of my life.
- I have met amazing people with big ideas and bigger hearts, who inspire and challenge me daily.
- I have seen a glimpse of how big an effect a group of vocal health writers can have; how active advocates can act to correct falsehoods and incorrect reporting. I am a part of a movement; a way that healthcare is changing.
But what is all of this really about?
- It’s about the mom who comes to me at the 18-month check up and tells me her child’s car seat is still rear-facing.
- It’s about the dad who tells me he went to the health department and got a TDaP before his new son was born.
- It’s about the complete stranger who sees me in my office building and says, “Are you Dr. Natasha? Thanks for writing about fever. I had some questions and it came just at the right time.”
The beauty of the social is that I never talked with these parents about these health and safety issues. These parents made healthy decisions for their families after getting the information. Period. That’s all they needed, and that’s all it took.
Thanks and love to my husband has been a faithful editor and proofreader. Thanks to my patients for being an inspiring and endless source of ideas. Thanks to my readers who have commented, suggested, and listened.
As the next year approaches, I will continue to be challenged by the amazing peers and friends in the field. I will continue to learn about life through the eyes of my patient families who teach me something new everyday. And I will maintain the lofty goal of helping families make better decisions for their child’s health in my Kansas City community, and around the world.