We  are accustomed to think  about social media in terms of the personal interactions that stimulate our System 1: the intuitive, fast thinking process in our brain that enables us to enjoy interesting content and parry conversations with witty repartee.

In this post we’ll talk about how social software like private messaging, content sharing and tagging can provide a far more effective alternative for patient-doctor connectivity than email or simply waiting for the next visit to the office.

Well – that’s a mouthful. How does it work exactly?

Let’s consider a practical case and see how private social networking tools help a busy physician improve health outcomes with diabetic patients.

Diabetic patients at home can monitor sugar levels or in order to provide valuable information to the clinician both as an early warning for decompensation and to allow better decisions based on actual data.


Physician objective Private social networking tools
Save doctor time in patient communications Friend the patient and caregiver(s) using one click invitations, more effective than tradition user registration processes. Private messaging between patient and doctor, more effective than email – no distraction of general email, lack of context and threat of spam and malware.
Enable doctor to provide personalized guidance to his patient Content sharing – doctor provides and tags guidance (“ test your blood sugar 3 times a day using the stick”)
Enable patients to provide the doctor with the right data Status update – patient provides status updates as comments to the guidancePrivate messaging between patient and doctor,

And so we discover at the end of our story that once we take out the advertising and entertainment and system 1 intuition we are left with System 2 – the rational, logical and slow process you use to solve complex problems like why the Dopicar CR that you prescribed for your 84 year old Parkinsons patient is not working.

Let’s say you waited until the quarterly visit from the patient. At the next office visit, you used System 2 and interview the patient and her husband. The wife and husband swear that she takes the Dopicar CR on time. You are wondering why it is not effective. Your first, System 1 response is that they just don’t remember what they actually did.

System 2 is based on principles of logic and more complex knowledge about the world that is usually not automatically accessible to us. This also allows you to generate alternate stories and respond in novel and productive ways and discover that their Nepalese caregiver at home grinds up the Dopicar CR pills into the potato puree since it’s so much easier for the wife to swallow (Parkinsons patients often have swallowing issues).

Now imagine that you can have patient and caregiver-provided data before they come to the office. You see their private messages and status updates. You see a new caregiver, the Nepalese girl and you notice that the Dopicar CR is being given around meal times. You ask her how she does it and bingo you have the data without waiting for the next visit to your office 3 months down the line.




Danny Lieberman is the authority in applying threat analysis to Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in healthcare. He is a sought-after speaker, prolific blogger on healthcare technology, and advisor on software security and privacy compliance issues to healthcare and medical device vendors. He is passionate about Pathcare: the private social network for a doctor and her patients. Danny is a solid-state physicist by training, professional programmer by vocation and avid amateur saxophonist and biker.

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