Primary Care's Missed Opportunity

I am just so upset right now, I could scream. Why? Because, in my humble opinion, the Family Medicine and Primary Care Communities missed a huge opportunity to start to win the "hearts and minds" of the general public - using social media.

What am I talking about? Well, tonight, on CNN, was the Premiere of the film called "Escape Fire" which does a great job of describing our broken health care system, including rewarding the payment of procedures (current Fee For Service system), not emphasizing/paying for prevention, and emphasizing the use of pharmaceutical drugs instead of other non-drug treatments.

One of the great things about social media is the ability to watch something on television, and then comment on it in real time - in this case using the hashtag #RescueHealthcare. I've been monitoring the comments, and there is a lot of wrong information out there in the twitter stream.

Here is the Missed Opportunity: Wouldn't it have been nice if the Primary Care and Family Medicine community organized to come together and hit twitter right as the Escape Fire movie started - and be advocates for Primary Care and Family Medicine. Don't get me wrong, there were people who did that, and shout out to our pals Kevin Bernstein, Kim Yu, Mark Ryan, and Ajoy Kumar holding down the fort for #FMRevolution.

But, how cool would it be for people like AAFP Board members or hearing from the Primary Care Progress organization during that twitter stream to give great evidence based health policy facts (like lots of people tweeting out things like links to Barbara Starfield's work supporting Family Medicine)? Instead, the AAFP organization only emphasized the appearance of the AAFP President on a post-film panel (for a 7 minute segment). Don't get me wrong, this is important. But, it's just another example of how much work needs to be done at the organization level to show the potential power of social media as an opinion maker just by the use of a twitter stream - like this organization did. We need to be more Proactive to tell our story!

At the organizational level, whether it be the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, or other organizations, they always state that partnering with patients and with the general public is essential to bring about health policy and legislative change. In my opinion, a huge opportunity was missed tonight. And, hopefully, the lesson learned is this: Yes, Social Media IS a viable and an important vehicle by which to partner with patients and with the public to tell the story of Primary Care and Family Medicine to bring about health policy and legislative change!