The benefits and challenges of social media

How does social media fit into medicine and healthcare? The question persists in debates between experts and institutions, but virtually all agree that there are equal advantages and disadvantages to consider with the connection. Nearly 9 in 10 doctors and nurses said they had social media accounts as recently as 2017.

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and many more offer a unique set of opportunities for scientists and caregivers interested in representing their field online. But as with any form of health messaging, a clear purpose and informed strategy are absolutely necessary.

In an interview with HCP Live At the Society for Dermatology Physician’s Associates (SDPA) 2022 Annual Meeting last week, Savanna Perry, PA-C, creator of The PA Platform and Physician Assistant at Evans Dermatology, discussed her meeting session on strengthening social presence as a health professional.

Perry first became interested in building an online audience when she took up blogging early in her AP career. Eventually, his consulting business The PA Platform took off, and Perry expanded his marketing and education efforts to social media. She learned to “integrate my profession and what I do in dermatology” into content for people interested in pursuing a career in her field.

Today, the PA platform has around 55,000 followers on its Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

“I think getting started is the hardest part, because it’s really hard to know which platform to start with, what you need to post, how to do it,” Perry said. “There are a lot of steps to go through and everyone wants to get to work. My biggest advice to anyone… is just to be consistent and persistent.

While Perry considers the platform a great marketing tool for her consulting work, she stressed the need for dermatology specialists and physician assistants to consider their specific practice-specific account creation goals. .

“Does it bring in patients, does it build a brand, does it influence?” she explained. “There are many different paths you can take – and you can combine them – but you need to know which direction and what you’re headed for in order to know what kind of content to create.”

Among fellow PAs, Perry noted that building and promoting an online platform can be beneficial in a field that offers less stability than other medical professions. From practice to practice, providing a strong social media presence is “essentially a marketable skill.”

Acknowledging the changing algorithms and content preferences of social media platforms, Perry said there has been a significant push for more educational content and information sharing from medical expert accounts. Coupled with a high-profile field like dermatology, as well as an increased prioritization of telemedicine following the COVID-19 pandemic, specialists in the field could do well serving as a trusted expert online.

“We’re a visual specialty, and it’s just not as exciting to show someone’s blood pressure improving,” Perry said. “Everyone has skin, but they don’t always understand their skin. There are so many products and information thrown at us all the time, and some of them just aren’t right. “

Perry cited research she included in her SDPA session that highlighted the number of patients who rely on social media content to make healthcare decisions, as well as data suggesting that misinformation spreads about 6 times faster on the Internet than in other media. More than just a professional and personal interest, medical professionals using social media can provide a needed service to lost patients.

“These patients go online to find providers and information, but they’re more likely to find incorrect information,” Perry said. “I think it is part of our responsibility as medical professionals to publish evidence-based medicine and accurate information with links and sources so that these patients feel more confident in the information they find.”

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