So is partnering with patients, adds Farris K. Timimi, MD, the center’s medical director.
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Explore This IssueOctober 2012
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“For me to say with a straight face that only a physician can have expertise in a patient disease begins to lose credibility,” says Dr. Timimi, also program director for the Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Fellowship Program at Mayo. “Patients are the living experts of their disease.”
He says the majority of Mayo’s patients live online. He believes that physicians have a moral obligation to participate in online chats, especially considering the low cost of participation and profound scalability of healthcare information. Although the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 applies to healthcare information both on and offline, he says the center trains providers on how to avoid crossing blurred lines between sharing health information and practicing medicine.
Earlier this year, one of Mayo’s transplant cardiologists, Brooks S. Edwards, MD, participated in the center’s Twitter chat that highlighted the importance of organ donation, which coincided with Facebook’s organ donor recruitment campaign. That same day, Mayo released a video of Dr. Edwards on its YouTube channel walking people through the process of changing their status to be an organ donor. The reach and penetration was “incredibly profound,” Dr. Timimi says.
“[Dr. Edwards] had never been an advocate of social media and has become very involved in Twitter,” he says. “The number of frank conversations that occurred in that Twitter chat—how many lives have been changed—really moved Brooks to be a strong advocate of social media participation.”
In May 2012, Mayo rheumatologist John M. Davis III, MD, participated in an ACR sponsored Facebook chat about rheumatoid arthritis. The chat was part of the ACR’s Arthritis Action Month social media program.
Vaidehi R. Chowdhary, MD, a rheumatologist at Mayo, is another recent convert. Last May, she participated in a Facebook chat sponsored by the Lupus Foundation of America and a Twitter chat on arthritis led by Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor for ABC News.
“This was my first experience,” recalls Dr. Chowdhary. “I was a little nervous…that maybe I wouldn’t be able to answer every question.”
After responding to 284 comments, she hopes to participate in upcoming chats sponsored by the center.
“[Social media] is a good venue to talk about things that apply to all patients,” she says. “It’s definitely worth exploring by every group practice.”
Using social media successfully is a learned, not innate, skill. The Center for Social Media offers social media guidelines for physicians and Social Media Residency training classes twice a year at each of Mayo’s three locations for any healthcare employee. Likewise, it also formed the Social Media Health Network, a membership group of 120 organizations that share ideas and access Mayo’s training materials.