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Even though doctors and patients these days seem to be surrounded by technology, the foundation of medicine stems from face-to-face interaction. The heart and soul of healthcare lies in human contact, genuine concern, and empathy. However, in the digital age where patients are Googling and doctors are …

Twittering, it can be easy to forget that a hug or a handshake is just as important as a prescription pad.

Technological progress and the Internet have brought medicine a long way, but they mean nothing without a medium – a physician with a compassionate heart – to communicate and translate the results of such medical progress to the patient in language that can be understood. Social media in healthcare exists to bridge the gap between the scholar and the layman. But many times doctors become so wrapped up in managing their schedule that their schedule ends up managing them and the patient experience ends up suffering.

When you are in the exam room, do you set aside time to get to know a patient? Do you ask how he is doing, or what sort of personal issues he has that may be affecting his health? Do you put aside your iPhone or your Blackberry and make eye contact? Do you smile? Do you try to make a personal connection with him?

Simple gestures such as these become easily overlooked when the “social” aspect becomes overshadowed by the “media.” Medical marketing via social media has led to major advances in the way physicians provide primary care. It can help a physician reach a patient beyond the doors of the medical practice – beyond that annual or semi-annual checkup. Social media can connect him to a patient who has a concern or even an emergency outside of office hours. But in order to reach the patient through social media, the patient must first feel comfortable enough to go to the physician. These Internet advances mean nothing if there is not first trust – a human connection – between a doctor and his patient.

By taking the time to connect with patients on a personal level as opposed to just clinically will help build loyalty. It will also boost patient referrals. After all, who doesn’t love a doctor who takes the time to get to know them?