Is Tweeting Part of the Hippocratic Oath?

Hippocratic Oath

Paging all doctors. It must be frustrating to deal with patients who have no problem pulling their car into a mechanic and saying, “The thingy is making a wonky sound. Know what I mean?” But when they go to the doctor, they show up loaded with information about likely prognosis and what treatment they need. “Just write the prescription, doc.”

Well, here’s how it happens and how doctors can help.

If you’re anything like me, you take to the internet for healthcare advice long before calling a doctor or digging through your wallet or purse for your insurance card. For me, this usually leads to one outcome: I’m dying. Slept weird on your shoulder? Your joint is evaporating and your arm will fall off. Have an odd swelling on your neck? Your boss is thinking of firing you. Are you more tired and a bit less fit than a few years ago? You’ve eaten too much chocolate and lost your gym membership card. That last one might be true.

One difficulty with the internet is that certain sites built a lot of authority early in the game. WebMD is a good example of this. While WebMD and similar sites are loaded with valuable information, they rely on the searcher (you) to input your symptoms in order to see possible causes. Unless you happen to be a doctor (welcome to our blog!), you are not a doctor. Quickly, your symptoms seem more severe or don’t quite line up with the site’s prognosis. Yes, you have a sore throat and watery eyes, but it’s not sore inside. It feels sore on the outside. Keep going down this chain of symptoms and possible diagnosis and you wind up with a frightening diagnosis every time. It’s like a “choose your own adventure book” with one ending: you might be dying.

Doctors can intervene and prevent this whole ordeal? That’s one of (drumroll please)…

5 Reasons Doctors Should Tweet

  1. Doctors should tweet about things they are learning, trends they observe, links to helpful articles about topics like flu shots or seasonal allergies or any other information they think may be valuable to the public. Doing so gives wayward searches with a common cold an easy-to-find resource letting them know, “Hey, it’s cold season. Maybe try some tea,” or whatever their medical advice may be.
  2. Google often includes tweets in its search results, so tweeting is a great way for doctors to share important information with patients and searchers before they go down the rabbit hole of online self-diagnosis. The right tweet by a doctor can appear at the very top of search results, so it’s a great service for concerned patients and searchers.
  3. Twitter is an easy way to build and maintain community, conversation and research. It’s a simple way for doctors to stay connected, share important articles with one another, critique ideas and ultimately improve science while we watch. Doctors are constantly learning, so why not share?
  4. Twitter is quick. The maximum length of a tweet is 140 characters, so it doesn’t take long to share quick information. “Honey, should I pick up dinner?” doesn’t take much more effort than, “9 quick tips to prevent skin cancer http://bit.ly/1eJaoGG.
  5. Tweeting seems to fit right in with the Hippocratic Oath:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

Share knowledge? With those who are to follow? Sounds like Twitter to me!

(Special Bonus: Twitter doesn’t require any handwriting, so patients and anyone else looking for information can actually read what you write!)

Josh is Connectivity’s Content Marketing Manager.