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The Abuse and violence: working with our patients in general practice provides the best-available current evidence for GPs
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for general practitioners
Advice and guidelines for GPs and practice teams to help protect general practice information systems
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Social media in general practice
What is Facebook?
Facebook is currently the most highly used social networking service globally. In Australia, about 50% of the population uses Facebook every day.6 Many use it as a way to stay in touch, share moments from their life, engage with businesses they like, or promote their own business.
Advantages of using Facebook
Tips for using Facebook
The RACGP offers the following tips for the use of Facebook by GPs and practice staff.
What is Instagram?
Instagram is a photo-sharing and video-sharing social networking service owned by Facebook, Inc. It is the third most popular social media platform behind Facebook and YouTube. Instagram users are the most likely to follow businesses or brands when compared to other social media platforms. Other Instagram users can request to ‘follow’ you and vice versa.
Advantages of using Instagram
Tips for using Instagram
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is an online professional directory of individuals and companies. It is currently the largest professional network worldwide, with 300 million members around the world. Individuals use LinkedIn for professional networking, connecting and job searching.
Advantages of using LinkedIn
Tips for using LinkedIn
What is Twitter?
Twitter is an online social networking and micro-blogging service that enables users to post and read short messages (‘tweets’) up to 280 characters long. In a tweet, a person can share an idea, opinion, promotion, photo or video. You can also ‘follow’ particular organisations or people, which means their tweets are visible in your feed, and people can follow you back, meaning your tweets will be visible in your followers’ feeds. Anyone can read content posted on Twitter, but only registered users can post tweets. It can be a useful social media tool in general practice as it provides a way to stay in touch with colleagues and follow people and organisations that interest you.
Advantages of using Twitter
Tips for using Twitter
If you are setting up a Twitter account, you should consider the following.
Do not retweet testimonials made by others (regarding you as a GP, your general practice or health service). For more information, refer to AHPRA’s ‘Social media policy’ and other relevant guidelines.
Using Twitter at conferences
Twitter is becoming more popular at conferences, allowing delegates to make comments and suggestions over live Twitter feeds that are often displayed on a big screen visible to all delegates. Twitter can also be used at conferences to ask questions in major plenaries. Be mindful of what you write on these types of Twitter posts, as they are publicly broadcast at events and on the internet.
Public tweets versus direct messages
Direct messages are private and can only be seen by the sender and receiver. However, anything you publicly tweet is not private and can be accessed by anyone, including those without Twitter accounts.
Keep this in mind when tweeting or responding to tweets to ensure that you are professional and respectful in your online behaviour.
A ‘hashtag’ is a key word or phrase preceded by the hash sign (#). Hashtags are used on most social media platforms to categorise content so users can find, follow and share content about a specific topic. They are a useful way to find content you are interested in (eg #womeninmedicine, #digitalhealth), and adding hashtags to your own posts can help engage people with your content.
The Healthcare Hashtag Project is a good place to learn more about hashtags related to health.
Case study: Dr Timothy Senior
Based in Sydney, Dr Timothy Senior has been active on Twitter since January 2011. With over 5000 followers, Dr Senior’s Twitter reach includes a varied audience of doctors, other health professionals, academics, students, journalists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and interested members of the public. While the majority of his followers are based in Australia, he has a number of international followers in the medical field.
Dr Senior chooses to follow people who start interesting discussions, and he links to thoughtprovoking sources of evidence or expertise including academics, journalists or politicians. His tweets explore topics such as public health and social determinants of health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, general practice, medical education, politics and classical music. His Twitter account is for personal use. It acknowledges his profession as a GP, but he does not post on behalf of a practice or his employers.
Dr Senior has found Twitter to be a useful tool in enhancing his career as a GP. He has been able to link directly with a thoughtful and informed group of GPs across Australia and the world. Twitter links him to research and ideas of academics and patients, which has broadened his perspective on health and health systems. It has expanded his opportunities, mainly for writing and occasionally for public speaking.
Dr Senior has easy access to his Twitter account via his smart phone and tablet, which keeps him up to date and allows for regular tweets. He finds tweeting at conferences a useful way to stay informed and engage with other participants, fostering an entertaining and engaging sense of community at conferences.
He posts a tweet most days and more frequently when involved in Twitter conversation. He tries not to tweet unless he has something interesting to add, and often stops to rethink his tweets before posting them, deleting those that he deems too sarcastic or cynical.
Dr Senior’s rule is never to be dull in his tweets, and he often deliberately tries to question or challenge prevailing wisdom. He often tweets about policy changes that impact healthcare, and challenges some of the cultural values of other medical professionals, especially regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. He regularly bases opinions on evidence, uses humour and questions, and steers clear of abusive arguments.
Dr Senior’s use of Twitter has resulted in new opportunities. Through Twitter, he successfully crowdfunded a regular column for Croakey, discussing the health impacts of various government policy proposals. He has been asked to talk at conferences about using social media as a GP, and now has a reputation as a doctor who tweets, despite this being only a small part of how he views himself.
What is a blog?
A blog (weblog) is a website that features a diary-type annotation and links to articles on other websites. Blogs can be used for business or personal use, and can focus on a particular topic or a range of topics. Some are more like personal journals, presenting the author’s daily life and thoughts. A general practice or a GP could have a blog and write about their practice, the health sector and health-related issues in which they are interested.
How to blog
The benefits of starting a blog
Tips for blogging
Case study: Dr Edwin Kruys
Dr Edwin Kruys started blogging in 2012 on the website of his general practice in Western Australia. When he moved to Queensland, he started his own blog, Doctor’s Bag, for personal use. Doctor’s Bag has grown in popularity and is read all over Australia, with international followers in the UK, Ireland and Canada. He enjoys writing and publishing, and originally began the blog to lift the profile of his clinic. Over the years it evolved into an opinion blog with a focus on the challenges of eHealth.
Dr Kruys lists his three main reasons for blogging:
Dr Kruys blogs several times a week about healthcare politics (mainly general practice), eHealth and social media. His primary audience comprises of doctors, patients, journalists and policymakers. He uses his blog as a networking tool and believes it is the interaction that makes blogging and social media interesting and powerful. He considers blogging a way to share ideas, dreams, opinions and experiences, and stands by the words of business coach Seth Godin: ‘You are doing it for yourself, to force yourself to become part of the conversation’.
Dr Kruys learns from the research he does for writing blog posts and from the responses regarding his posts from patients, colleagues and others.
Working in medicine is a cognitive job, but blogging has allowed Dr Kruys to use his creative skills. On occasion, he has found his blog has influenced decision-makers and made a contribution to the profession. Doctor’s Bag has helped Dr Kruys brand himself – journalists know where to find him for comment on health-related issues, and he is regularly invited to speak at events. Blogging has expanded his network and given him opportunities to connect with colleagues nationally and internationally
Dr Kruys’ blog has tackled some controversial topics – some posts and articles about eHealth and the national eHealth record system received extra attention and debate. His posts about pharmacy owners wanting to provide more medical services created upheaval, resulting in angry comments left on his blog. But Dr Kruys welcomes opinions from his readers, and aside from an active spam filter, he does not moderate comments. He appreciates the open access and transparent nature of blogs and wants readers to be able to give immediate positive and negative feedback. He prefers to have negative comments about him on his blog, rather than on another social media page over which he has no control.
Dr Kruys recommends the following for a blog:
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