I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with wrinkle whisperer, Dr. Bobby Ghaheri. Dr. Ghaheri and I talked about how he’s used social media to improve his reach as a doctor, the future of social media in medicine, and some of his Twitter best practices. (Interview is not verbatim.)
How did you get started using Social Media?
DrGhaheri: I first started tweeting around 2009 under the handle of the Medical Spa I worked at. It went nowhere so I met with a Social Media Consultant. She recommended I tweet as myself. Unless you’re a really big corporation no one will engage you as a business. So I started tweeting as myself. It was a hobby, it’s how I get my news . . . . Eventually, I became more and more known in the community and it became a place for educating people. Then it began leading to new patients. Some of my twitter patients weren’t even from my area but they were willing to drive because we had a relationship through Twitter. I always say twitter is my first office visit.
What has been the most fruitful aspect of Social Media for you?
DrGhaheri: Being known in the community as someone who can answer questions. In this economy people don’t want to waste their time and money so it becomes like that person at a cocktail party asking “Hey, do you think I need to get this looked at?” I’ve become known as a reliable resource.
Certainly I’ve made money off of it. I’ve gotten about fifty surgeries from patients I’ve met on Twitter, but that’s not why I got into it. I did it to develop a brand for myself and to be known. Doctors have to do that nowadays.
Where do you see untapped potential for the merging of social media and the medical industry?
DrGhaheri: Integration with electronic medical records. A HIPAA compliant way to use twitter. Right now if a patient tweets me ‘hey I’m having this reaction to that antibiotic you prescribed me’ I can’t respond, I have to send a message to my assistant and have her call the client and say ‘here’s what Dr. Ghaheri says to do.” That’s a wasted step.
The other place is using smart phones for health purposes. An Endocrinologist I know, @endogodess created a smart phone app for diabetics to help with blood sugar regulation. There’s a lot of potential for those smart phones to be a powerful medical tool.
How much time do you spend on Twitter daily?
DrGhaheri: Hours. The biggest chunk is before I go to bed but it’s cumulative. If I’m standing in line at the store, if a patient is late and I’m waiting for them to fill out paperwork, It’s very easy for me to just pop into my office and tweet. It’s not a chore for me. And It’s not just work, it’s my news source and I have friends and family on twitter. I know some doctors have a personal and a professional account, that’s too much for me. I didn’t want them to be separate. I want that transparency.
If I were a doctor just starting to use Twitter what are the big do’s and don’ts you would want to share.
DrGhaheri: Don’t tweet all promotions! That just turns you into spam. Don’t be negative. If you want to criticize something come at it with research but don’t just tear things down.
Do be enthusiastic. If you look at social media as a chore you’re going to fail because that attitude will come out. The ones who enjoy it, that radiates out and they have the most followers.