I was super late for last night’s #OzDOC tweetchat, coming in for the second half of the lively discussion. The questions were about how HCPs can engage on healthcare social media (HCSM), and the answers were to assist physician Dr Kevin Lee who is presenting this very topic at the ADS-ADEA conference on the Gold Coast later this month.

In recent years, I have given and heard many talks about why HCPs might want to consider using SoMe as a tool to engage with PWD (or, more broadly – people with any health conditions), and also how they may find SoMe useful to engage with other diabetes HCPs.

Presenting at the 2013 ADS-ADEA meeting about social media and healthcare.

Maybe it’s just me, but I am bemused that usually these presentations are targeted at such an ‘entry’ level. Social media is not new. Healthcare social media is not new. And yet, the presentations about HCSM at most medical conferences all have a ‘101’ feel to them, as though it is emerging technology and a revolutionary and new way to communicate. It is neither of these!

In fact, communities gathering on social media is just peer support 2.0. (Which is what I wrote here. Three years ago….)

And yet, the anxiety around it is still present.

I suspect that there are several reasons for this nervousness.

Firstly, by its very nature, SoMe is unregulated, and I will fight to the death to say this is a good thing, not something to fear. Its organic, unstructured and unpredictable nature is part of its power.

Even in a facilitated forum, (such as as tweetchat), there is only limited control held by the moderator – and a good moderator knows that their role is sometimes to sit back and watch (and encourage) the flow of, and tangents in, the discussion – that is often where the magic happens!

HCPs considering venturing into the patient-held HCSM space (different from interacting with their peers) need to consider what they plan to do once there. Are they going to be providing advice? Or do they want to engage in discussions?  Perhaps they just want to quietly lurk, using it as a learning experience.

Whatever they choose do to, simply stepping in and having a look around will, hopefully, alleviate many of the concerns and fears they have about HCSM – especially once they understand there is no mystery to this way of communicating.

But I really do think that it is not our role as PWD using HCSM to provide a comfortable space for HCPs. And we shouldn’t feel the need to moderate our discussion for fear of who is listening in.

I have always considered social media to simply be a different way for having a conversation. There is no mystery behind it and there is nothing to fear. This thread from last night’s tweetchat sums this up perfectly! (Thanks, @MelindaSeed!)