Patient–Physician Interaction on Social Media: The Physician’s Point of View

*Elena Nikiphorou,1,2 Francis Berenbaum3

1. Academic Rheumatology Department, King’s College London, London, UK
2. Rheumatology Department, Whittington Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK
3. Department of Rheumatology, AP-HP, Saint-Antoine Hospital, Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, France
*Correspondence to

Disclosure: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.
Received: 20.04.17 Accepted: 08.12.17
Citation: EMJ Innov. 2018;2[1]:40-42.


The use of social media (SM) in healthcare has provided a novel means of communication in line with a more modernised approach to care. For physicians, SM provides opportunities for enhancing professional development, networking, public health, and organisational promotion, among others. For patients, SM provides potential for taking a more active role in health, sharing information, and building virtual communities, especially in the case of chronic and/or rare diseases. SM has the potential to bring patients and physicians closer together, beyond the walls of clinics; however, the interaction between physicians and patients on SM has received mixed feelings, especially from the physicians’ perspective. On the one hand, the potential for a more enhanced, albeit remote, communication has been viewed positively, especially in an era where digital technologies are fast expanding. Conversely, concerns around breaches in professional boundaries and ethical conduct, such as mishandling of patient-sensitive information on these platforms, have fuelled heavy criticism around its use. From this viewpoint, issues arising from the use of SM in healthcare, with a focus on the patient–physician interaction, discussing the potential benefits and pitfalls are covered in this article.

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