For the last 4 years, I’ve been teaching medical and public health studentsabout the use of social media and generally digital technologies in medicine and healthcare and I got a good picture of what kind of medical professionals they would become soon. They represent the new generation of physicians.
Here are my points and observations:
- They are technophile. I remember the time when there was no internet, I remember the first website I first saw online. They were born into the technology and internet-based world. For them, websites, Facebook, Twitter and blogs represent the basics. They love gadgets and devices.
- They are fast. They use smartphones, read news online, follow blogs and know what RSS is, they are familiar with multi-tasking. They are much faster than the previous generations therefore they need different tools and solutions in their work.
- But they use the technology for non-professional purposes. Even if they know a lot about social media, they use it like everyone else outside medicine. As long as they don’t have professional motivation regarding the use of social media, they keep on using it for personal reasons. We must help them find the way to use the web in an optimal and efficient way.
- They like balance. They don’t want to become “Gods’ for the patients even if they are trained like that and hate hierarchy. They soon realized common hierarchies are missing in the online world and what matters is the quality of work you do (just see Wikipedia). They need informed patients and want to work with e-patients. They are not afraid of them as they see such patients day by day in the circles of their families, friends and relatives. For them, the concept of being an empowered and enabled patient is absolutely not new.
- They live on the internet. They not only accept the dominance of the online world in almost all processess and activities, but it’s so natural for them. They have been doing banking, messaging, reading, studying and even shopping online in their entire life. It’s obvious they want to use the internet when practicing medicine and they don’t really understand why they cannot use it right now in many areas of medicine.
- They are mobile. They don’t feel they should stay in one place and they are not afraid of moving to new places or even countries. They are also mobile because of their smartphones through which they are connected all the time to those who are important to them and to the information they need.
- They are the future. And as it strikes me, they don’t even know it (fortunately). They just want to use the online word in medicine and healthcare as well.
I’m trying to help them become better doctors who can meet the specific needs of e-patients, the new generation of patients. In this long process, I will make my course totally online this January. So then any students, medical professionals or e-patients could take and finish my course and know more about the medical segments of social media and the entire world wide web.