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Social Media and Web Presence for Patients and Professionals: Evolving Trends and Implications for Practice.


The use of social media has become very instinctive to many. It has become part of a daily routine. Enhanced communication, liberated expressions of self, becoming updated with all the trends and news, and marketing promotion are only some of the reasons why most people use social media. Health care providers including physicians should take advantage of these platforms for professional purposes. Social media extends far beyond the famous platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, used mostly for social connections. There are sites dedicated to serve professionals, for example, LinkedIn, or even physician-specific forums such as Sermo. The physical medicine and rehabilitation community has a forum (Phyzforum) created by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation to share questions, comments, and ideas. Moreover, there are broadcast media (Podcast) and blogging sites (WordPress) used by many physiatrists. Surveys show that physicians actively use an average of 2-4 hours of professional-leaning networking sites per week; for example, 44% of physicians use Sermo and 42% use LinkedIn. The participation also extends to more popular sites, with 40%, 25%, and 20% physician participation in YouTube, Blogging, and Twitter, respectively. There are numerous guidelines available for medical practitioners pertaining to professional use of social media. Strategies such as timing of postings and posting content as well as methods to maintain your online reputation are discussed. Various benefits and potential pitfalls with regards to social media use are also analyzed, including how to engage followers and addressing negative comments and reviews.