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Using Medical Social Media to Empower Patients

Dr. Howard Luks

I had the privilege of talking with Dr. Howard Luks (or “Howard J. Luks 2.0” if you’re a fan of his blog) about his use of Social Media. Dr. Luks is the Chief of Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy at University Orthopedics, PC and Westchester Medical Center. His website,, is a mix of orthopedic information, tactical Social Media guidance for doctors and general information about the evolution the Healthcare industry is undergoing because of the role the Internet has taken in patient empowerment.

Just spend a few minuets on Dr. Luks’s website and it is clear that he is passionate about using the Internet and Social Media to empower patients. “Empowered patients are knowledgeable, intelligent, typically prepared for their medical appointments — and they expect and demand a far higher level of service from their health care providers.” He truly uses social media as a tool for patient education, not just marketing. It is also clear that he is good at it. His website had 4,025 unique visitors in November alone and he has 4,752 twitter followers.

I spoke with him specifically about the nuts and bolts of his Social Media presence.

How did you get started using Social Media?

HJLuks: I am naturally a very social person, so it was a natural extension of my desire to connect with people. I played with various platforms of Social Media, but it never felt contrived. It came very naturally to me.


What made you decide to start blogging? That’s a big undertaking.

HJLuks: Yes and no. I look at it as a calling similar to my calling to be a physician. I get no compensation for my work on-line. I truly believe that patients need more access to good, un-biased information and not the commercialized nonsense that’s out there.


Some might say the Internet gives quacks the same platform as credible professionals. How would you respond to that?

HJLuks: Well, we all have first amendment rights. Everyone has the right to voice their views, that’s the nature of Social Media. There will always be people who want to take advantage and put out junk but the cream eventually rises to the top. The sites with good content will get more traffic and over time have more visibility, that’s the power of Social Media.


What kind of conversions have you seen as far as patients coming to you from the Internet?

HJLuks: I’ve certainly queried a number of patients from my web presence. My number one source of new patients is word of mouth. The Internet is number two. 15%-20% of my new patients found me on “the Internet.” 80% of those did a Google search and came across my website and 15%-20% found me through some form of social media.


How has your use of the Internet helped you stay current in your field?

HJLuks: My participation in social media is about 70% outbound, 30% inbound. I use Twitter and Google Media to get information. I start everyday looking at a list of sources I’ve come to respect.


What are some of those sources?

HJLuks: I love KentBottles and DrVes is an amazing curator of information.


What would you say to a doctor thinking about to getting started in Social Media?

HJLuks: Do it! The world has become flat. Social Media is the new information and communication medium. The number one thing you will gain is that in five years you will still be relevant. It’s no longer O.K. to just have your piece of real estate. No one is going to find you. You have to go where the people are congregating and they are congregating online.

Visit Dr. Luks’s blog or follow him on twitter for more insights on Medical Social Media.

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