Video: Social media can transform healthcare, RCGP debate hears

Few GPs would follow Professor Clare Gerada's example and give patients their mobile telephone numbers or email addresses, the annual RCGP conference heard today.

The RCGP chair told delegates at a social media debate that she had given many of her patients, including doctors with addiction and mental illness problems, her email and mobile number.

The audience took a show of hands on the idea, with the majority saying they would not do the same.

Professor Gerada added: ‘I think it will be social media rather than telehealth or telecare that will transform healthcare.’

North east Scotland GP Dr Alison Douglas said: ‘I would argue that you should document professional communications not just to be defensive but to have a professional record.’

But Dr Ben Riley, RCGP medical director for e-learning, said emails or texts provided greater documentation than phone calls.

Belfast GP Dr Brian Cunningham said: ‘I’m old enough to have practised as a GP without a computer on my desk. When it arrived I was told it would save me 40 minutes a day. That hasn’t happened.

Other panellists said social networks had enabled them to receive peer support.

The RCGP is consulting on a social media highway code for GPs. To contribute, email your comments to communications@rcgp.org.uk or visit the college’s Facebook page.

* Editor's Blog: Should patients have their GP's mobile phone number and email address?

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