Healthcare Professionalism in the Age of Social Media

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James Nibert
HCA 656
Extra Credit Assignment
12-01-10

Healthcare Professionalism in the Age of Social Media

Introduction
Social media, like the postal letter, telephone and e-mail before it, has revolutionized the ways in which people communicate in the modern world. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have hundreds of millions of users that have chosen this medium to communicate with the world at large. Blogs, Wikis and podcasts further contribute to the dominant communication tool of the modern world: social media. This new form of communication has been quickly adopted by professionals of all varieties, but it has specific implications for physicians and related healthcare professionals. As the ability of a physician to effectively perform their job, and for the patient to respect the physician’s advice, is dependent on the trust between them, at what point does the physician’s private life in terms of social media begin to affect his or her professional life? It is estimated that 59% of American adults searched for medical advice online in a 12 month period. Included in these searches were many reviews of a physician’s conduct and abilities (McKay, 2010). As this new form of communication becomes increasingly more common, medical professionals will need to take precautions to insulate themselves both legally and ethically, and to retain the trust of their patients that is vital to the effective functioning of their job.

Methodology
The methodology of this research paper was conducted in the most systematic way possible given the time and resource limitations of the project. In should be noted that this particular field of study, while increasingly popular, is still very recent and thus limited in terms of depth and availability of appropriate sources. The search began initially with a search of Google using the phrases, “professionalism and online healthcare,” “Health 2.0 and professionalism,” “ethics and online...
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