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Title: When patients connect with physicians on facebook: physician perspectives on benefits, challenges, and strategies for managing interaction
Authors: Mishra, Smeeta
Keywords: Communication strategies
Doctor-patient communication
Healthcare management
Patient-centered communication
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: SCOPUS
Health and Technology
Springer Verlag
Series/Report no.: 9(4)
Abstract: Since medicine and social media have disparate cultures, Facebook is not usually associated with doctor-patient communication. However, with patients increasingly reaching out to physicians on Facebook and other social media sites, physicians seem to be exploring ways to use these platforms effectively. Based on in depth interviews with 31 physicians in India who are connected with their patients on Facebook and six other healthcare professionals in administrative positions, this study explores the benefits and challenges associated with such usage and the strategies used by physicians to manage such interaction. The findings show that physicians use the platform for communicating their personal brand and to spread health awareness, especially after adapting it to the socio-cultural context of their audience. While physicians remained wary of online trolling, unreasonable patient expectations and medico-legal issues, they attempted to cope with the challenges by following strategies such as never giving specific medical advice on Facebook, never initiating online contact with a patient and avoiding political and controversial posts on the platform. While physicians believed that the patients felt empowered being connected to them on Facebook, those with Facebook Profiles also ensured that they accepted “friend” requests only from patients they considered “intellectually mature” and “safe” to communicate with. Overall, the study indicated that physicians are grappling with tremendous change and clarity is yet to emerge in terms of new meanings and practices, especially in areas such as marketing of physicians’ expertise online, protecting their privacy in an age of constant connectivity, determining the nature of communication with patients on social media platforms and acquiring social media know-how in the midst of time constraints. The study also highlighted the need for hospital management personnel to urgently address challenges faced by physicians in their online interaction with patients.
Description: Mishra, Smeeta, Business Ethics and Communication Group, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Kolkata, West Bengal 700104, India
ISSN/ISBN - 21907188
DOI - 10.1007/s12553-018-0273-z
Appears in Collections:Business Ethics and Communication Group

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