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Tag Archives: Social Media and Health

Annual AAO Meeting and Young Ophthalmologists

Randall Wong, M.D., presents to Young Ophthalmologists, AAO 2013I just returned from New Orleans.  The American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2013, just finished.  Upwards of 25,000 people attended this largest “eye” meeting in the world.

Again, I went to teach about the merits of utilizing a website (like this) and social media to improve communications with patients and to develop a modern approach to marketing.

Amy and I founded Medical Marketing Enterprises, LLC 3 years ago to formally introduce these concepts to professional organizations.

Young Ophthalmologists: The #YoProgam, AAO 2013

The Young Ophthalmologists is a group within the American Academy of Ophthalmology.  To be a member, you must be  in training (resident or fellow), belong to the AAO, or be in your first five years of practice.

During my presentations on SEO and Social Media, I emphasized the need for young professionals to start a website immediately, understand the merits of adopting transparency (both personal and as a business) and to respond the wants and needs of modern patients.

To other groups, I instructed on the basics of starting a website and the rudiments of content marketing…the only way to rank a website.

Start a Website Immediately

One of the basics of SEO, search engine optimization, is that your website must be time tested and trusted.  Not only must your content be important, but the age of the URL (the www.YourWebsiteHere.com) is very important to search engines such as Google.  Google puts little “trust” in websites less than a year old (too many black hat sites come and go).

Therefore, a young ophthalmologist in training will fare better if starting a website now versus waiting until he/she obtains the first job.  Simply writing periodically to keep the website “fresh” will slowly build an online audience.

After a couple of years, a significant online following may develop which is portable and therefore, a ready made marketing force.  Think of searching for a job coming with your own marketing!

Transparency

Doctors are not used to being transparent.  In this modern age, patients (you) demand their physicians have personal transparency and operate transparent medical practices.

Personal transparency means that a person demonstrates who they are versus what they are.  In the case of physicians, it is vital for doctors to distinguish ourselves by who we are as a person and not what we are as professionals.  Those physicians who are able to best convey human elements of themselves (e.g. father of five, hockey manager, Dunkin’ Donuts, loves labradors and tennis) will be far more successful in engaging patient than their counterparts.

Too common are physicians who attempt to distinguish themselves by describing memberships in elite societies, being products of special programs and having interests in research in highly esoteric diseases…none of this is relevant to the typical patient.

Before making a purchasing decision, going to the movies or eating at a restaurant, many of us rely on the reviews.  Why wouldn’t the same hold true for selecting a doctor?

Every other small business operates transparently.  The public is now demanding that we (doctors), too, operate transparently.  Review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List are powerful statements about a doctors ability to run a small business.  Review sites are abundant because they are vital to our ability to make decisions.

While many doctors fear online reviews, they are here to stay.

What Does This Mean?

In short, the digital age has given our patients a voice.  Modern patients, irrespective of age, want to find transparency in their docs.  I think this is the new bedside manner.  Patients also expect to find cogent reviews about practices who care how they run their office…as a business.

Communication is vital to a doctor-patient relationship.  Long gone is the era of scarcity marketing where the doctor was able to leverage his knowledge about health.

Patients now have multiple resources to learn about their health, not solely health professionals, and are now demanding their doctors be knowledgeable, transparent and willing to engage digitally!

 

Dear Dr. Wong….

Social Media Improves Health Information on the InternetI want to share this with you.  It is a testament to how valuable a medical website, using social media, can be in terms of providing value…to both patients and doctors.

If you’ve been reading here for awhile, I firmly believe in the power of social media (a blog is the purest form of social media) and how it can improve public health information.

Amy and I founded a medical marketing company to share what we have learned and lecture/teach nationally on social media and medicine.

 

Dear Dr Wong

I am 60 years old and live in the UK. I discovered your blog while surfing for further info on prognosis following repeated retinal detachments and the use of silicone oil to stabilize. Your pages gave me so much comfort, and I felt much better after reading them. I had an epiretinal membrane problem and early cataracts diagnosed last year. My surgeon offered me vitrectomy, membrane peel, and lens replacement. The op was successful, a textbook case, and for a few days I could see like a newborn! Then the retina detached…..A second surgery 3 weeks later, (vitrectomy, gas bubble and cryo) was carried out. During this op there was, I gather, one of those moments when “the room goes quiet”. There was unexpected bleeding and the cornea became waterlogged. I had to have the lens removed, the iris retracted and the cornea removed. Not fun. Over the following weeks the cornea degraded and shredded twice, two trips to the ER for debridement (ouch). I had a little strip of blurred vision left, which narrowed daily and eventually disappeared, leaving me totally blind, no light perception. This was due to massive proliferative vitreo-retinopathy scarring and pulling the retina off again (macula off). Because of the state of the cornea my surgeon decided to leave the third surgery for an extra week, at the moment of seeing him it was inoperable. I had the surgery to try and save some vision (vitrectomy again, silicone oil fill) in March of this year. I was prepared to be blind in that eye for ever. I now have no peripheral vision on one side, no vision above eyebrow level, and huge distortion and blurring in that eye.

But – I can see SOMETHING!

Your writings gave me massive comfort, in my case the disease is winning, but I accept this. My surgeon is an excellent man, and a really nice guy too. The disappointment on his face each time the surgeries’ outcomes were not positive was plain to see. The final surgery was “successful” in that my retina is now attached, thanks to the silicone oil, and stable for the time being. Who knows what’s ahead!

So I’m just saying thanks to you and all of you guys who go the extra mile to try and save our sight. Without your care and expertise we would ALL be blind.  Disease of any kind is just bad luck, and retinal disease is such a bummer!

Cath Lamb

What Does This Mean?

This site now reaches over 15,000 new viewers every 30 days.  I’ve answered over 2500 comments/questions on the 400 or so articles I’ve written about retinal disease or my personal life.

I have readers from all over the world.  Many have become actual patients.  Over the past 3.5 years, I’ve experienced how this blog and social media have become so pivotal in forming relationships between patients and doctors.

Here’s how it works..

Every website, medical or otherwise, must create value. Websites without value are boring and receive no traffic.

The value of this site is the information I provide, for free, regarding eye disease.  Using my expertise as an eye doctor, I write articles regularly and on subjects relevant to my followers.

With value comes trust.  This doesn’t happen over night, but is evidenced by the numerous comments/questions generated by the posts (aka articles).

The most compelling aspect of a blog is when the doctor chooses to respond to the comments/question, thus generating the so-called “conversation.”

The conversation is compelling.  At first, it attracts other readers with similar questions/problems…they can identify.  Most powerful is when the doctor responds. It reveals practice philosophy, “bed-side” manner and some of our personality.

So, in the end, it’s the articles that gain attention, but it’s the “conversation” generated by the articles that are so powerful.

 

Social Media RoundTable and Article on Doctors' Transparency

Randall Wong, M.D., Views on Social Media and MedicineLast week we left for Chicago to share my views on social media and medicine.

The round-table was fun.  I enjoyed sharing my views (and I have many) with the other participants:  two related to the business of medicine (Allergan), two practice administrators and two doctors.  My co-participants all have some experience communicating with patients digitally.  None maintain a blog.

Each of us shared our views on a variety of  topics;  types of websites, blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, Apps for docs, etc.

I was very proud to speak about what this site has taught me about:

  • providing value and relevance to readers
  • understanding the importance of developing relationships; real or virtual
  • the strength of social media
  • why social media, however it is defined, now allows patients to be more selective in their health care choices; choosing doctors or otherwise.

The round table discussion will be transcribed and published in September/October just before the AAO meeting.

Doctors Must Learn Transparency to Succeed

Also on Monday, an article I wrote for KevinMD.com was published regarding the need for doctors to learn personal transparency to succeed using social media.  I am proud to say, this essay also developed from my work here on this site.

There is a lot of interest in doctors learning the whys and hows of websites and social media.

What Does this Mean?

Both Chicago and the KevinMD.com has confirmed that forums such as this site are few and far between, but are becoming more vital as to how readers/patients receive their information on health and healthcare.

Doctors have traditionally been dictatorial in our methods of communication with patients.  The Internet/social media is challenging our old ways.

After this weekend, I am certain;

  • medicine is becoming consumer driven
  • few doctors are really taking advantage of the Internet, but there is no hurry
  • any amount engagement;  website, YouTube, blog, etc. is better than nothing
  • if a doc has no web presence, he basically doesn’t “exist”

Doctors who understand these new concepts will be providing the most value to you, our patients

 

This Doctor's View on Social Media and Medicine

Randall Wong, M.D., Social media for medicine.I’m going to Chicago this weekend to talk about Social Media and medicine!

The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) has its annual meeting this year in Chicago.  Ophthalmology Management, an ophthalmology business development company, and Allergan are hosting a “roundtable” discussion on the use of social media in ophthalmology.

Allergan has a business development division whose experts provide guidance to medical practices.  I have been invited to participate and will be sharing what I have learned from you and this blog.

Every Website Must Be a Blog

Any modern website should be a blog.  There is no reason to use the old-fashioned so-called “HTML generators” (e.g. Microsoft FrontPage, Dreamweaver).  Blogging “software” has the same versatility as the older programs, but blogs have the unique ability to allow the reader (you) to leave a comment at the end of each article.

The ability to “comment” is the single reason blogs have become so powerful.  The “comment” allows the reader to engage by asking a question or sharing some experience.

Blogs, therefore, are the purest form of social media.

Every Website Must Offer Value….and for Free!

If you have no value, you can not generate traffic…aka interest in your website.  Simply Tweeting or posting on Facebook about your website will do nothing if you do not have valuable content.  And, oh yes, your content must be refreshed regularly (ever go to a website that hasn’t been changed in a while?).

The value of this website is my ability, as an authority on retinal diseases, to share my knowledge of retinal diseases.  My articles help educate my patients and those non-patients surfing and looking for answers to their health related questions.

Giving value for free is also integral to developing a following.  “Free” generates trust.  Trust builds relationships.

“Comments” Attract More “Comments”

I try to answer every comment left on this website.  By doing so, it invites future readers to leave a comment.

There are several aspects of the “comment” that are powerful.  Comments help engage other readers who have the same problem.  While reading one of my articles might attract your attention, identifying with another reader who shares the same problem is the most engaging.

My participation in this “conversation” demonstrates a willingness to engage my patients, gives me the opportunity to explain my practice philosophy and gives you a sense of my “bedside manner.”  This “transparency” is the most compelling aspect of my blog.

Scarcity Marketing and Medicine

Scarcity Marketing says that if I own the only restaurant in town, I don’t have to have the best food or the best service.

The Internet provides information (this website, for example).  Patients are now more knowledgeable about their own health conditions, ergo, the value of the doctor has decreased.  Knowledge has empowered patients to be more selective in their choice of caretakers.  Doctors can no longer use knowledge to leverage their own value.

Physicians of today must learn how to be transparent, both as a person and as a business owner, to survive in this new era of social media.  The digital age and social media are making modern medicine a consumer driven market!

Would you agree?

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 51st birthday.  Every once in a while, my birthday falls on a holiday (I was born on Labor Day).  Thus, I have my Dunkin Donuts’ coffee, don’t have to cook and get the kids off to school and the office is closed!

I can really do whatever I want….today.

My purpose in writing today was to post something nonclinical and personal.  Something “transparent.”

The Importance of Transparency

I have learned many things over the past 3 years since starting this blog, and now a formal business.  The biggest lesson learned is that transparency is essential to be successful as a professional and a leader.

For example, the difference between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates is NOT Macs vs. PC.  The difference is one is transparent whereas the other is not.

Steve Jobs is willing to be transparent.  We, the public, know much more about Steve’s personal life than we do Gates.  Think about all you know about Steve Jobs.  Now think about all you know about Bill Gates.

One guy has made fanatical contributions to the world and is ill.  The other guy is just ridiculously rich.

That explains that funny feeling you got a few weeks ago when Steve Jobs resigned.

You won’t feel the same with Gates.  No transparency.

My Personal Stories Get the Most “Hits”

I now exceed over 6500 unique visits (per 30 days) on this blog.  That’s an exceptional number considering that I use this for educational purposes.

My most popular articles are those that are personal; Grant going to college, losing Keno, etc.  It’s noteworthy, yet compelling.  These are articles that bring you into my life.  These are articles that show that I, too, am a human and not just a overzealous doc that likes to blog.

Not every physician is willing to show this degree of transparency, but it’s the key to a physician’s success online (and btw, every doctor needs to be online).  Mark my words.

Doctors Should Be Transparent

Unfortunately, doctors are not normally transparent.  In fact we do many things to build up a wall to keep us insulated;  we wear white coats, a uniform to “distinguish” us, place nonsensical awards and diplomas on our office walls to which patients can NOT relate (to make matters worse, most are in Latin), write short bios of ourselves that not even other doctors can understand the significance, etc.  Worst of all, when we meet with patients, we rarely can afford a true dialogue, but instead, advise about your illness via a monologue (“Let me tell you how to fix your problem and get well.”)

Being transparent shows that behind the white coat and the rest of the wall…we are actually human.  Docs shouldn’t live in an ivory tower.

I don’t know why docs don’t like to show they are human, it’s like they are afraid to show they are, well…normal.

The AAO and My Message

I have been invited to address 200 “young ophthalmologists” at the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting next month.  It’s a huge honor and terrific endorsement for our company.

I’ve been tasked with talking about “marketing.”  My main message will be that a successful doctor is one that understands the needs of his or her patients.  Social media is a compelling statement that patients want their doctors to be online and those that show some degree of transparency will be the most successful.  In fact, I’ll be recommending to this elite group of docs that if they are thinking about aligning with a practice without a web page…move on.  That’s a practice that has it’s head in the sand.

There are still docs out there that believe in the “build it and they will come” approach to attracting patients.  Trying over and over again to impress patients with their smarts and intellect…but patients already know docs are smart.  We went to med school, right?

What’s missing is transparency.  Docs need to show they are human.

 

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How This Blog Has Developed…into a Business!

Medical Marketing Enterprises, Medical Website Optimization, SEO and Social Media

 

Blogs, the simplest form of social media, can improve health education and at the same time aid interested doctors in marketing their medical practice.  It’s a win-win.

I started about 2.5 years ago with retinaeyedoctor.com.  It started as a bit of challenge to myself, but resulted after my attorney wife, Amy, introduced me to the techniques of Internet Marketing.

Google Made “Search” Legit

I realized that thanks to Google, getting pages to appear at the top of search list was now legitimate.  No more games or gimmicks.  No more paying your way to the top.

Search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, reward websites with fresh and relevant content with high rankings!  While their algorithms of how they rank pages are secret, the major search engines now rank pages based on the content, that is, the quality and relevance of the articles contained on that page.

This, so-called “content marketing” allows web pages with really good information with high rankings…in this case, medical websites that publish accurate and relevant health information will enjoy top rankings.

“Above the Fold”

Top rankings for a webpage are analogous to the most important news story appearing “above the fold” in newspaper lingo.

Amy and I have founded Medical Marketing Enterprises, LLC,  a medical website optimization company, .  Our goals are to;

  • teach medical practices how to publish great websites that get ranked by Google
  • improve the quality and credibility of health info on the Internet
  • establish a legitimate business

In a nutshell, we’ll teach a doctor to do what I’ve done for my own practice.  By publishing great medical content…websites get ranked well.

The public gets great health information and the doctor gets marketing!

I think our timing is great.  Doctors are just realizing that they must engage the Internet, as over 80% of the public turns to the Internet for health related questions.

Doctors don’t understand the importance of social media and fail to realize that engaging in social media can be as simple as starting a blog (like this one).  Starting Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts can be helpful, but not necessary.

Our biggest endorsement comes this fall.  The American Academy of Ophthalmology is in Orlando and we’ll be teaching several courses on just how to get started.

Wish us luck!  Imagine…if more doctors would create websites like this one, the quality and credibility of health information available on the Internet would be second to none!

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Wong Gets Oriented

I took my son for his orientation to St. Mary’s College last week.  It gave me an idea of how dependent these kids are on the Internet, not just computers, but the world wide web.  It also made it clear to me just where we “live” now and where we will be “living.”  More and more we’ll all be turning to the Internet for our credible health information…just look at what the kids do now.

Many of you I support doctor’s use of the Internet and I write weekly for a  “physician’s blog” encouraging doctors to implement the Internet in their practice.  This article paraphrases last week’s post where I describe my observations made during Grant’s orientation.  When I was in college, I brought a Smith-Corona typewriter with me.  It was electric, had its own case, and I had to use those annoying strips

1.  At the outset of the trip, neither son nor daddy could agree on the best route.  We used the GPS systems linked to each of our smart phones (yes, my 18 year old has one).

2.  While air conditioning is still a luxury item at college (his dorm lacks AC), each and every dorm room has a broadband connection.  “WiFi” is only available in the library and classrooms.

3.  The college has gone “green.”  Each department stresses communication via email.  Every student receives a personal campus email address, however, we are told,  “most students never check email.”  Apparently, most college kids communicate exclusively via FaceBook and text messaging.

4.  All student billing and other administrative functions are channeled through a secure online “portal.”  Class assignments, notes, etc. are also posted on an online forum.  This means that all grades, bills, meal plan changes, class notes, etc. are now “online.”

5.  Laptop computers can be borrowed for free from the library.  They may be used anywhere on campus.  There is free access available when needed.

(BTW – have you checked the price of a basic laptop with WiFi?  Available now for under $300 locally.  Online access has become affordable – in fact, cheaper than a “smart phone.”

Lost computers can be located by searching for the missing computer’s MAC address.  This ID tag for computers online makes it difficult to “borrow” or lose a computer on campus.

6.  The college has abundant computer labs featuring both PC’s and Macs.  Some labs are open  24 hours and the campus computer center helps you diagnose and fix and problems you’ve encountered with your own computer, i.e. there is free access and support.

7.  We met with the most of the department heads  just as we met with the chief of IT (information technology).  When I went to school, there was no such thing as IT, much less an entire department.

8.  I dutifully used my iPhone to snap a few pics and text them to my wife.

9.  Copy machines are becoming obsolete.  Instead, each student starts the semester with $25 credit for printing.  Using the scanners, however, is free.  Instead of “copying,” the kids “scan” and download the images to a flash drive or shared storage.

“Shared” storage is given to each undergrad.  This is hard disk space alotted to each student on the school server (network computer).  This storage is backed up during the day and each student as access to any of their files (music, spreadsheets, documents, pics, etc) from any computer with a network/Internet connection.

10.  Best of all…when the washing machine or dryer has finished the load…an email message is sent.  Now it all makes sense, reread item #3!

What Does This Mean? Clearly, every aspect of a college student’s life is now integrated with the Internet, not just a computer, but online access.  The school even expects me to be fluent with computers by paying bills online and transferring money to Grant’s account while at school.

This generation will be using the Internet for every part of their college experience;  eating, studying, grades, bills, socialization and communication.

Doesn’t it seem logical that this generation, even more so than now, will be turning to the Internet for health information?  Isn’t logical they’ll turn to the Internet looking for a doctor?

Hmmm…maybe docs should be using the Internet, too.

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Patients Abuse the Internet

Most of the time I write about information about regarding macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.  As many of you remember, I am very interested in persuading more docs to do the same, that is, provide credible health information on the Internet.

An article in Reuter’s claims that over 50% of Americans turned to the Internet for health information last year.  Way to go!  At the same time, fewer than 5% ever bothered to email their own doctor.

As more and more people are turning to the Internet for health information, I am hopeful more and more doctors will meet you there by providing solid, credible health information.

Docs are resistant to using the Internet.  There are misgivings at several layers.  Basically, docs don’t want to give away their expertise and are afraid of getting sued by offering medical advice that may be… well, wrong.  But they don’t have to give away advice as patients are looking for information…not opinion.

The difference between information and advice is that information is factual.  Advice is an opinion.   Doctors get information and advice mixed up.  I believe patients search the Internet for health information for the same reason we want to know about world news…they just want to know.  They want information about a disease or sickness.

People crave information.  The single biggest activity that occurs everyday on the Internet is “search.”  People are constantly searching, or “Googling,” for information.  But I don’t think patients are looking for advice.

Clinical judgment is what keeps doctors special.  Clinical judgment arises as a result of melding together facts with patient experience.  I support doctors publishing facts.  Clinical judgment entails an exam that can NOT be facilitated over the Internet…ergo, there should be nothing to fear.

Clinical judgment does not exist on the Internet, it will always be what keeps a doctor “unique.”

What Does This Mean? This means that doctors, and other health authorities, really should feel free to publish credible health information.  Information does not mean you are giving advice, opinion or treatment.  There really aren’t any liability issues.

From a public health perspective, the more good information on the web, the more likely someone will seek medical attention.

This web site is intended to be a single source of information about diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.  There should be more like it.  There is no abuse.

“Randy”

Randall V. Wong, M.D.

Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist
Fairfax, Virginia

MLK Had a Vision…RetinaEyeDoctor Has an…Idea

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Coincidentally, it is also my 150th post to my web site, RetinaEyeDoctor.com.

Dr. King had a wonderful dream.  He had a specific vision.  He shared his inspirations.  In honor of this day, I share my hope of doctors, patients, healthcare…and the internet.  He was an orator.  I blog.

I started 9 months ago.  I now reach over 1000 views/month.  I have achieved a Google  page ranking of “2.”  In terms of blog ranking, I have climbed from number 13,746,224 to now, 6,667,254 (an increase in almost 50%).  My blogging has strengthened my web presence.

In short, I am getting results.  I am getting closer to my…hope.

Patient Education –  The immediate advantage to creating a web site, authored by a physician, is the power of authority and credibility.  Creating this site has provided you with a credible source of information about diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration.  It is written by me, a retina specialist.  By definition, I am an authority on this stuff.  Who better?  We need more docs to do the same.

Equality – With credibility comes equal access.  Access to information.  Accurate information about health should be free and available, to everyone.  I am not equating this to free healthcare, because I don’t believe that’s possible right now.  I am just focusing on information. With technology, the web and social media, we now have the ability to quickly, easily and cheaply disseminate information.  It costs no more to provide information via the internet to a few or to thousands.

Doctors’ Duty – My hope is that through improvements in patient education, via similar web pages/social media, that more health providers, especially physicians, embrace the internet.  It is our (docs/health care providers) social obligation to improve the quality of information available to our patients.

Doctors have the ability to empower the public, by providing information, to participate in their own health.  This can only start with education, but quality education.  Information that is free of bias, and information that is accurate.  It’d be really easy, docs just have to publish what we preach every day in the office.  Why is good information so hard to obtain?

Social Media means many, many things, but there are a few immediate applications of “social media.”  By the way, examples of social media include Facebook, Twitter and LinkeIn.  Practically speaking, it is a means to share information, hopefully quality information, via social networks.  The format can be a web page (text), video (YouTube), slide shows (Slideshare.net allows you to upload Power Point presentations) or audio (podcasts).

As providers, docs have a variety of ways to participate and educate.  For instance, perhaps a web page isn’t ideal, how about a Power Point presentation?

Social Media empowers patients/public to become active participants of the internet.  In terms of spreading ideas/information, social media allows one person to tell many others, quickly and in real time.  For instance, I use Twitter daily to broadcast my latest post.  The “ReTweet” button on each article is an easy way any reader can share the article with others.  If John Q. Public wants to share a great web site on, er, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration, it is now easy to share via social media.

On my own page, the quality illustrations have come from JirehDesign.com.  Mark Erickson, a very  gifted, medical illustrator, and I formed a relationship via Twitter.

Empowering the Public on Healthcare. Web site, i.e. blogs, have become interactive.  When docs start participating, the “ivory tower” will start to erode.  Information becomes less “priveleged.”  Interactivity allows patients to ask questions, on their time, through a media which is convenient and comfortable for them; the Internet.  It allows them to understand.

In the end, everyone may benefit.

Dr. King had a dream.  I, humbly, have an idea.

“Randy”

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist
Fairfax Virginia

Social Media: Finding Credible Info On the Internet

Why do you believe everything on the Internet?

“I Read it on the Internet” Most of what I read on the internet, regarding health information, is bunk.  Whether it is advice on diets, exercises, medical treatments, etc., most is off target, non-factual and opinionated and biased. People are likely to believe what we read on the internet as gospel because……….well, it is on the internet!  As if the internet is the ultimate stamp of “authority.”

Lack of Credibility Most web sites, especially health,  have no credibility whatsoever.  There is no review system in place to filter information.  In time, this will come, but for now, read carefully.  Read and look for sites that are written by authorities.  In my case, the content of my web site should be more credible than others.  I am a physician.  I am a retina specialist.  This makes me an authority on retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and retinal detachments.

True vs. Perceived Authority True authorities are hard to come by, especially on the internet.  The world’s most famous authority on “snipes,” isn’t necessarily the authority on the internet.   The “perceived” authority will be found on the internet.  The “perceived” authority is the person who takes the time to publish about “snipes,” and this may even include work by the true authority.

In other words, the person that publishes the most about a topic is more likely to be the perceived authority and is easily found with you “Google” a topic, whereas the true authority may lie dormant and be lost on the internet.

It’s Easy to Get On The Internet It is so easy, I’ve done it.  It is easy to create a web page or blog.  Simple software is available for free.  Sophisticated software is nominal.  I use a company to “host” my web sites.  Overall, it costs less than 10 dollars a month.  My point is that it is easy and cheap. You basically just need a computer.

What Does This Mean? It does not mean that everything you read is bad information.  Most of the health information on sites like WebMD and NIH is awesome and factual.  These authorities have authored the content on the web pages.  Be cautious about the source if you are not familiar with them.  They are, however, often very hard to read.  I find the information is too broad and not necessarily targeted to their readers.

  • Beware of Selling Beware of web sites that seem to promote health information and are trying to sell you something.  For example, health supplements such as vitamins.  I believe there is a conflict of interest.  On my sites, I may eventually be selling something, but I promise it won’t compromise the credibility of what you read on my site.  For instance, I won’t be selling “eye vitamins.”
  • Look for the “contact” information. If it is hard to find the author, or owner, of the web site, then I’d be suspect of the information.
  • Look for Credible Authorities. For instance, I’d recommend looking for medical sites written by ………….. doctors.  As you move away from the doctors, the authority figures have less clout, but it is a good place to start.
  • The Internet is NOT a Doctor. You should still see a doctor.  Use the internet to gain information and learn.  Use the internet to ask your doctor better questions.  The internet is an awesome place for information.  You just have to figure out what to believe!
  • Tell Your Doctor! – Part of my charge is to create credible sources of information on the internet.  By using our innate authority as physicians, I am pleading that more and more docs create sites like www.RetinaEyeDoctor.com.  There are huge implications for my disseminating factual health information regarding diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
  • Social Media If you find a site you like, comment, tell others, tell your friends and even your own doctors!  You may even consider using social media to share your good news!

“Randy”

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist
Fairfax, Virginia

offices

Currently, I see patients with retinal diseases; macular degeneration, retinal detachment, macular holes, macular pucker within several different practices.....it's a different arrangement, but it allows more continuous care with many eye specialists. In addition, I am very accessible via the web. To schedule your own appointment, call any of the numbers below.

Capital Eye Consultants
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Contact: Brigitte O’Brien

A: 3025 Hamaker Court, Suite 101 • Fairfax, Virginia 22031
Ph: 703.876.9630
F: 703.876.0163
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Dressler Ophthalmology Associates, PLC
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Contact: Andrea Armstrong (Surgery/Web)
Chrissy Megargee (Web)

A: 3930 Pender Drive, Suite 10 • Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Ph: 703.273.2398
F: 703.273.0239
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