Interview of Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson: 5 Minutes Worth Watching I recently chatted with Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson to learn about her use of the internet to better serve her community. In this first 5-minute video we focus on how she uses the digital world to better connect with patients, to educate and serve them better. Future installments will also explore her experience as a hospital blogger and address the question, how can other hospitals get their doctors involved. Until then, enjoy listening to Seattle Mama Doc, Dr. Swanson (one of my personal heroes).
She’s Many Things, Always a Patient Advocate
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson is many things: she’s a mother of two young boys; she’s a physician and pediatrician who also earned a master’s degree in bioethics; she’s a blogger; a speaker; a consultant; an author (every Amazon.com review of her book, Mama Doc Medicine, is rated five-stars!). And the thread running through all of these personas is her patient advocacy: Dr. Swanson cares deeply about educating her patient community to keep children healthy and safe.
“We Have an Obligation”
As a result, she began writing a blog – Seattle Mama Doc blog – for Seattle Children’s Hospital, as a platform to provide accurate health information for her patient community. Dr. Swanson and I agree on many things, including the belief that the healthcare establishment – doctors, nurses, hospitals – have an obligation to our communities to provide accurate health information. Not a radical idea, surely. And yet, the majority of “healthcare information” on the internet is actually MIS-information. It’s designed to drive traffic to sell products; it’s designed to drive traffic to pay-per-clicks revenue. It’s NOT designed to provide accurate, useful healthcare information.
Doctors Should Provide Information
So who is best-prepared, and best-positioned, to provide such information? Doctors, that’s who! And that is what Dr. Swanson and a hand-full of other blogging doctors are doing. WHY should physicians take the time to blog, to provide accurate health information in the digital world? I can talk for hours about the ROI (return on investment) for a hospital or medical practice (and I do: I teach workshops on this, one of my favorite topics). But here, I want to focus on our patients: it’s about our advocacy. It’s about serving them.
We Are ALL e-Patients
The fact is, when people have symptoms, or are given a new diagnosis that they don’t understand, they do what ALL of us do when we have questions: they go online. They do a search. Pew Research Center tells us that a third of us go online to self-diagnose. They tell us that the majority of us go online first to answer our healthcare questions: BEFORE we call our doctor’s office; before we go to urgent care or our doctor’s clinic; before we even call family or friends to ask their opinions. We go online.
Opportunity to CONNECT
To summarize, according to Dr. Swanson,
“… that’s not a problem: it’s a great opportunity. We can join people online in conversation. We can meet people before they come to clinic; before they visit the hospital. We can leverage the amplification of the internet to educate and serve our communities in deeper, richer, and more productive ways.”
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