Summa Social Media Talk


I accepted an invitation in Akron, Ohio at Summa Akron City Hospital to speak on Friday, April 13, 2012. The invitation was from the Ob/Gyn Department there to talk about social media and medicine. They even wrote a nice post on their blog this week. Dr. Vivian von Gruenigen, also known as @DoctorViv on twitter, is the department chair of obstetrics and gynecology for Summa Akron City and St. Thomas Hospitals and medical director of women's health services for Summa Health System. I sent her some e-mail questions, and here is our chat....

1) How did you first become interested in social media?

@DoctorViv: I've done research in cancer survivorship "centering" for years and have been intrigued by the sociological aspect of patient groups. Two years ago, I became the medical director for the women's service line at the Summa Health System. Our communication and education budgets were not impressive so we needed to think outside the box. In addition, a member of the communications team, Julie Uehara, is a social media fanatic. She approached me to partner with her to start a women's blog. Since then, I listen attentively to all of her recommendations.

2) What do you tell colleagues about why social media is important for the physician/patient relationship?

@DoctorViv: I use two messages with my colleagues.

a) We are responsible to partner with our patients in their education: Social media is easy to use and it's

free. Not all patients have computers but everyone has a phone. Plus, it's environmentally green and

patients can learn outside a clinical office setting.

b) Social media is not going to go away: Embrace it now, your Mother has, and I bet she's on Facebook.

3) We met at the 2011 Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit. What were you hoping to get out of that conference, and what information did you bring back and share with your colleagues?

@DoctorViv: I am a researcher by training. My natural instincts is to become more educated in new pursuits. So, I went to the social media conference and read some of Clay Shirky's work. I brought back the conference materials and notes to all my colleagues. Most importantly, I brought the message that all speakers gave numerous examples of health care social media growth, cultural change and opportunity.

4) I see Summa Health System has a Women's Blog and even sends informational texts to your patients. What is the role of electronic and social media with patients in your program?

@DoctorViv: The goal of our social media platform is to build a community of women. Our original concept was to have a weekly blog written by physicians. It has now become much larger. I blog once a week and have guest bloggers 1-2 times a week. In addition, we have diverse bloggers including nursing, psychologists, cancer survivors, etc. Since it's inception in the fall of 2010, we have grown by about 10% each month. We have several physicians and researchers on Twitter, a Summa Facebook page, and a maternity texting program. We are presently crafting our first research paper on social media and women's health.

5) Finally, thanks so much for the invitation to speak to your department. What are you hoping that people get out of my talk?

@DoctorViv: The audience are beginners in social media. Framing social media from the past, present, and future is relevant. As a practicing Family Physician, we hope you will share some of your lessons learned, especially from your Doctor Anonymous era. If there is time you can give us a short "how to" course. If we can't get through it all we'll have to invite you back.