He’s approachable, likeable, and enjoys lively banter with his followers but, beyond that, his personal brand is one of education, reassurance, and, as I’ve just mentioned, empowerment. Three things that today’s healthcare system desperately needs to impart to the wider community.
Howard has managed, through clever and insightful use of his social networks, to blur the somewhat starchy boundaries that have traditionally existed between doctor and patient. His daily tweets provide the perfect edutainment blend of fact, humor, and reciprocation. What’s more, Howard knows how to involve his audience on a personal level using everything from asking for advice on his medical conference speeches to sharing favorite family and leisure time moments.
It’s interesting to note that social media use among physicians is actually higher than among consumers in general, as discovered by a CSC study in 2011. Surprisingly though, the study went on to report that most physicians are using social media in their personal but not professional lives.
Howard sees this trend as something that needs to change, not only to empower patients, but also physicians themselves. He believes, as research supports, that by embracing social media, doctors could reduce their workloads by moving some of the interactions currently using the phone or in the office to social media platforms stating:
“Important changes are taking place that will forever change the way the physicians and patients interact. Shared Decision Making principles, the concept of Informed Choice versus Informed Consent and the desires of the Participatory Medicine movement will dramatically alter the health care landscape.”