Hernia Surgeon Embraces Facebook to Optimize Patient Outcomes

Last month, I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Dave Kerpen who is the CEO and Founder of Likeable Media – an online social media marketing firm.  Also the author of the New York Times best seller “Likeable Social Media” and (as if that wasn’t enough), now my new favorite book entitled “Likeable Business“, Dave has a mastery understanding of the characteristics that make a person, or a business, successful (or in his words, likeable).  After learning his 11 principles to being likeable that included listening, team playing, responsiveness, transparency, and gratefulness, I was instantly aware of how those same principles apply to surgeons obtaining trust from patients many times, every day.
What further moved me was realizing that by being the same person online that we are in person, and then embracing  social media platforms in novel ways, like creating Facebook groups to discuss hernia cases, we could suddenly collaborate on a scale, speed, and with more people far beyond anything we have ever tried in the past.  Instead of reaching hundreds of doctors at a conference, we could now reach thousands or tens of thousands of interested doctors across multiple specialties, industry colleagues, and of course patients who have been operated on by us.  Is there a better or more transparent way to get feedback?  Plus, by listening to our colleagues from around the world, we can all learn a little something from everybody, even from our patients.

The goal of the International Hernia Collaboration Facebook Group is to create a social forum accesible from any computer or mobile device where all those interested in hernia repair (any physicians or surgeons, pain specialists, radiologists, industry partners, and even some select invited patients – those who are invited by their hernia surgeon who are already members) can collaborate globally and post almost anything related to this immense specialty (images, videos, announcements, surveys, case reports, thoughts, links to publications, questions, etc).

I would hope this new hernia Facebook group would attract hernia surgeons from around the world who are interested in globally collaborating about hernia on a scale and at a speed (and with more people) than any other forum currently available.  In just the first week it launched, we attracted over 60 international surgeon members, and it has already proven extremely useful.  For instance, on Christmas day 2012, while the world was on vacation, I was still able to post an interesting case report and get feedback from over 9 international hernia experts in just under 3 hours.  Soon, my patient who underwent the procedure will join the group and tell us all how he is really doing.

Inspiration to create this group came from three sources.  1) a desire to create a group where I could stay in touch with the other surgeons I was teaching throughout the year, 2) seeing the success of the international bariatric collaboration group (now with over 700 members)  initiated by Dr. Tom Rogula from the Cleveland Clinic, and 3) from my meeting with Dave Kerpen.

As a social forum, it is not part of any particular society or university and although it is a private group, any professional interested in hernia may ask to join.  At the moment, patients and industry colleagues should first be invited by an active member.  Random patients not invited by an active surgeon member are currently not being accepted.  If you are a hernia patient, and considering joining this, or any social media forum, you must be aware these tools are social medium and not medical advice.  Technically speaking, if they join, patients basically wave their HIPAA rights as the information can be seen by others.

Finally, for those surgeons initially reluctant to join because they are not YET familiar, trusting, or have the time to work with Facebook or other social media as a means to collaborate, or because of privacy concerns, this group is private and settings can easily prohibit you from being contacted by other Facebook members.

I do believe this is an exciting new tool that should be embraced, and that eventually we will all be using social media daily in our practices.

We need to embrace transparency, not hide from it.  Certainly our patients are worth it!

To join the International Hernia Collaboration Facebook group:

1) You need to have a Facebook account. Either login or create one at Facebook.com

2) You need to ask to join. Once logged in to Facebook, go to: https://www.facebook.com/groups/herniacollab/ (or https://on.fb.me/Rsm1GP) and click the Join Group button. Someone will approve your membership shortly.  You may be asked to clarify your interest in the group before being accepted.

3) When you are approved you will be able to read posts and make posts yourself.

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