Friday, February 4, 2011

“Facebook Physician” Points Way to Next Generation Healthcare

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“ePharma Insights & Rx” Podcast Series Features mHealth Advocate: Saves $, Improves Compliance, Delivers Higher Quality Care

Dr. Jennifer Dyer is a physician working in a litigious healthcare environment where anything you type can and may be used against you, and where the line between personal and professional is increasingly pronounced, sacred…and sterile.

So why on earth is she mobile texting and – worse yet – friending patients on her personal Facebook account?!?

Heresy! And although she would probably laugh at the assertion, this academic clinical endocrinologist at Children’s Memorial Hospital (Columbus, OH) is clearly a heretic of the highest order.

Dyer – who deals primarily with teens and children – has embraced both a figurative and literal mantra of “meeting them where they are right now,” which, for example, means texting reminders to diabetic teens to take their insulin, much like a concerned parent might text them to call home if they’re going to be late on a Saturday night. Just checking-in kinds of stuff.

Email is out. Gen Y doesn’t use it, and they’ve told Dyer as much.

And believe it or not, teenagers also have a tendency to blow off responsibilities unless reminded. So the best way to insinuate yourself in their world is by mobile. Text them.

It’s important to note that Dyer selects which patients are appropriate candidates for texting or to become Facebook friends very carefully, but at the end of the day, she isn’t afraid to put herself out there.

Her Facebook friends get to know her as a person who enjoys wine, fashion, New York City… In the process, she builds trust and meaningful connections with her patients.

While the thirty-something’s contemporaries have been indoctrinated to keep the patient at arm’s length, Dyer notes that, ironically, the older generation of physicians – especially small-town doctors – are far more comfortable engaging their patients socially, outside the office: at the grocery store, church, the town fair.

Some might call it quaint at best, but it worked in the 50s and 60s, and social media may revive the model.

But will it work today?

In an interview for IIR’s new podcast series – “ePharma Insights & Prescriptions” – Dyer makes a compelling case for adopting mHealth practices, including improved compliance, cost savings and higher quality care.

She’s such a believer that Dyer has even developed an iPhone app with a programming medical student that can automate and personalize text messages to her patients.

To listen to the podcast or download a transcript, please click here.

Author’s note: If you would like to learn more about Dr. Jennifer Dyer’s pioneering work in mHealth, she will be presenting a workshop titled, “mHealth in Action – Text Messaging for Improved Adherence” at IIR’s ePharma Summit on Monday Feb 7.

For more information or to actually meet Dr. Dyer, please visit

There’s still time to register! We hope to see you in New York next week!

Marc Dresner is an IIR communication lead with a background in trade journalism and marketing. He is the former executive editor of Pharma Market Research Report, a confidential newsletter for market researchers in the pharmaceutical industry. He may be reached at
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