Monday, May 13, 2013

Caring 2.0: #HCSM And The Rise Of The Empathic Physician

We have our rock stars.  Our members in the healthcare social media realm who have elevated the conversation to new heights.  Physicians are tweeting, blogging, and popping up on news shows across the country.  We are using our singular voices to educate on vaccines, heart disease, and the quantified self movement.  We are acting locally, but teaching globally.  The promise of social media has amplified our voices and carried our message to the unwashed masses. 

We once could affect the few thousand who passed through our office doors.  We now can touch the lives of millions.  This dichotomy, fulfilling our individual covenants as well as our debt to society as a whole, has proven a powerful draw.  One only has to look at the conversations on twitter to realize that our ranks are swelling.  Not only physicians, but nurses, pharmacists, patients and advocates are both teaching and learning.

We all win, patients and providers alike. 

Yet in our exuberance to transform, we continue to neglect certain self evident truths.  It's time to pivot.  It's time to not only tell people what we know, but who we are.  Knowledge has it's limits, but does caring?

I propose we move to a Caring 2.0 mindset.  The days of unidirectional emotion emanating from patient and bouncing off stoic expressionless physician are gone.  Like the Healthcare 2.0 movement, the elevation of caregiving requires a blurring of the line between teacher and student.  I can see no better way forward than social media.

We are human.  We suffer, triumph, and struggle with our own inner demons.  As Louise Aronson said in her book A History of the Present Illness:

Doctors, you see, aren't so different from patients. Every day we hope someone will see past our elaborate and very impressive window display to the jumble of expired products weighing down the shelves and choking the aisles of our psyches.

It is in this imperfection that we realize our best version of ourselves,

that we become the doctors our patients really need.


  1. Excellent thoughts, despite the grammatical gaffe (than, not then)

  2. As a provider and a patient, I left stoicism behind long ago. Caring is hard. It makes us vulnerable. It can also open the door to better practice and enriched lives on both sides of the desk.