Brian Levine, MD, is a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) with CCRM New York. Dr. Levine sits on the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's (ASRM) tech committee and speaks on social media to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). I thought he would be a great resource to keep us abreast of the rapidly changing landscape in communication technology.
There are other REs who participate in and talk about social media as it relates to reproductive health, like Dr. Serena Chen and Dr. Kenan Omurtag, but there aren't many. I asked Dr. Levine why that is.
Levine: Many REs are scared to participate in social media. We're not educated about it, we're only warned about the bad things that can happen. No one teaches you how to engage. We need to build discussion so that we can self-educate.
Griffin: What are some of the bad things that can happen?
L: Protecting patient privacy is obviously the first priority. But it's also important to protect your own (physician) privacy. Once you post something, it may be permanently accessible.
G: So what are the benefits?
L: Social media is part and parcel of understanding new technology in general. It allows for practices, providers, and patients to have an equal voice. Anyone can be involved in social media. It's also a great way to educate patients in a casual manner. It defines the culture of the practice.
G: What makes for good content?
L: Good content is material that's there, that's accessible, and easy to digest. Original content can be great too, but if people don't retweet or repost it, it's a lot of work for nothing. Also, original content can be tricky because people will view that as your actual viewpoint.
G: How does an RE even get started on social media?
L: You need a policy in place that addresses how you will respond to comments, add content, etc. Policies have to be very careful. Also, focus on one or two channels before moving on to others. You can spread yourself too thin and have no social media coverage. Society in general should be supporting the doctors, but ultimately it falls on the physician to take the initiative.
G: Online media is great most of the time, when patients leave glowing reviews and supportive commentary, but what about when reviews are negative?
L: It's often better to just take it on the chin. Responding to reviews is delicate, and it's more important to show your commitment to providing a solution. Reviews are also a tool to respond to feedback. You need to find out what the problem is. You need to fix that for your future patients.