If you have wondered what the social media landscape looks like from a strictly medical professional point of view, chek out the following blog posting on the KevinMD.com site: Social media helps doctors manage their online reputation. The author of this column, Tobin Arthur, lists several social media sites and Internet services that physicians use for outreach, customer support, and e-mail/chat.

Once a provider realizes the increasing importance of building and managing their online reputation, they need some practical tools and steps. Bear in mind, I am writing this, not for the small percentage of physicians already active with social media, but rather for those of you giving it consideration and looking for some practical advice.

Common techniques for managing one’s online reputation includes:

1.     Creation of new content – involvement in social media (blogs, Medscape Connect, iMedExchange, Sermo, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Flikr, Picassa)
2.     Promotion of existing positive content
3.     Building social profiles (Google Profiles, iMedExchange, LinkedIn, ZocDoc, Doximity etc.)

iMedExchange (which is in public beta test) and Sermo are examples of an emerging class of social media sites, in which participation is more targeted to medical professionals and not their patients. Reminds me of the old CompuServe forums, which could get very “vertical” in nature.

This article gets mighty interesting, though, when Arthur makes a valid argument against using Facebook as a tool for dealing with patients:

Avoid it as a professional tool! I don’t mean avoid it altogether. This is THE 800 lb guerilla of platforms for personal interactions and connections. There are some well suited professional uses for Facebook that include hospital outreach to patients, groups created around health oriented causes and so forth. However, there is no merit that outweighs the potential issues associated with using Facebook for professional connections. This includes creating a Facebook Fan Page for your practice. The number of “Fans” signed up for your practice Facebook page is worth less than the 6 month-old copy of Sports Illustrated in your waiting room. Again, there are always exceptions to the rule, but you should have a really compelling reason to think you are among the exceptions and not the rule.

Read it all.