Social Media and Doctor Satisfaction

Posted on June 14, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I found this recent post by Howard J. Luks, MD very intellectually stimulating. It’s a great read. Particularly if you’re a doctor or someone who tries to understand some of the various physician perspectives.

Here’s one section that sounded all too familiar to me:

Discussions about physician dissatisfaction occur at every water cooler, in every operating room lounge, and that every dinner many of us attend. But I often wonder if any of my colleagues are actively pursuing workflow changes, office efficiencies, or changes to their daily habits which may improve their level of job satisfaction. Interestingly, when I pose that question to my colleagues… the answer always seems to focus on finding another job… hmmm.

I can’t tell you how many doctors I’ve had come up to me with some hair brained website/internet idea and they want to build it. The story is so often the same. They make good money as a doctor, but they have to do it forever to make that money. They see the internet as this font of wealth. I try to let them down easy when I describe what it really takes to do what they’ve described. Ok, maybe I’m not that gentle in my description. I don’t want to crush dreams, but I do want them to understand what it really takes to do what they want to do. I digress…

Here’s another powerful part of Dr. Luk’s post:

Last week in my office, I received 5 emails germane to this topic. Three simply mentioned how satisfied they were with their encounter in the office in terms of the time they were given, the time I took to listen to their complaints, and the time I took to explain the natural history of their disease. Two of the e-mails came from long-term patients who are many years out from surgery — yet ventured onto my website and decided that they would touch base.

That simply makes my day.
From a work perspective, there’s no greater level of satisfaction that I could ask for.

The whole post is great since he covers the challenges of medicine as well and has a great golf analogy about how the perfect shot makes up for all the bad shots kind of like the grateful patient makes up for the bad ones.

Of course, all this discussion of patient and doctor satisfaction makes me wonder what role things like social media, PHR and patient portals can play in a doctor’s satisfaction. Many doctors fear the idea of being connected to their patients in some sort of social media. I’m not saying there aren’t reasonable precautions that need to be taken in our litigious society. However, I wonder if many doctors are missing out on some of the satisfaction they could get by using social media.

I have first hand knowledge of the job satisfaction you get when someone sends you a kind email in response to your blog post, tweet, or other communication. I know I can recount many such experiences because they were so satisfying that I’ll never forget them. I’m sure many doctors are missing out on similar experiences, because their afraid to open a channel up for that communication.