Why should South African doctors be “online” ?

vanessa1I’m on my flight back to South Africa thinking about the Doctors2.0 and You congress I’ve just attended in Paris (5-6 June 2014) (#doctors20 / http://www.doctors20.com). I’ve decided to write a few points about why I advocate for health in South Africa. Let me start with the first obvious reason “My job is to get doctors online”. The word “online” is pretty self-explanatory, but to elaborate it in detail, what I mean is that our medical professionals need to increase their presence on social media and focus on providing better “patient centered” websites so that patients can manage their health better and can locate the correct physicians on the internet. I’ hope to write more about this in coming posts.

Attending Doctors2.0 & You was a once in a life time opportunity and the knowledge I gained was incredible in terms of what we can expect in medical technology in the future. Social media and the internet plays a massive role in the progress of medical technology and health care innovation.


The medical world is transforming globally because of the technology explosion and South Africa are under-utilizing a magnificent tool called the internet to encourage progress and we are getting left behind.

For a long time, let’s face it, we have had a negative attitude towards our health sector in South Africa, but as a patient who is witnessing the medical technology explosion “online”, I decided to step forward and become a voice, “online” to encourage change. With 17 years marketing and a 10 year patient story I felt I could help make a difference.

Social media won’t change a negative attitude, but what it can assist with is awareness in terms of where we stand with our progress and to keep up with international standards in our health care technology. Being informed, by being “online” will hopefully promote innovation in the health sector in South Africa.


How could “online” medical communities contribute towards a change in South African health?

Our scientists, physicians, entrepreneurs etc. can follow the latest medical news as it’s distributed
1. Social media, especially Twitter, distributes the latest medical news by the second. Just follow or like a profile or search a (#) hashtag and you’ll get the latest news feeds. By doing this, doctors keep informed about the latest medical trends happening globally. Remember, if you are a doctor, your “tech-savvy” patients are already following this freely-available information online, therefore shouldn’t you?

Global Networking and Collaborating
2. Social media is not being used in health care as a “friend-making” tool. Some sites are being focused on purely as digital platforms to network on and their interactive tools allow the user to interact with some of the world’s finest minds.

Platforms like Twitter powerful for health care discussions which can be tracked & measured
3. Twitter isn’t just about tweeting about “what you’re doing”, it is one of the most powerful platforms for discussion because of its tools and capabilities. When using the # (Hashtag), topics can be measured by means of analytics and transcripts by companies such as http://www.symplur.com. Twitter also allows you to easily interact and follow users who distribute current information.

These are only 3 points of many that I learned at the #doctors20 congress. There were also incredible possibilities of patient engagement and how social media could be used for medical education. One of the threads already in use on Twitter being #Meded.


Most doctors in South Africa may initially see social media as a “social thing” or say they don’t have the time or they are afraid of the legal aspects, but after witnessing the power of social media in terms of what we have to gain in knowledge and the possibility of innovation, it would be an incredible loss to South Africa if we don’t open our minds and align ourselves to an international level.

I spent 10 days in Paris meeting some incredible people. Some of the world’s finest minds in #digitalhealth, #SoMe (Social Media), #mHealth (Mobile Health) from Stanford University, Silicone Valley, and beyond. I also met some incredible patient advocates who are changing lives with their stories.

What an opportunity I had to attend Doctors2.0 and You in Paris, 2014 and what a responsibility I have ahead.


Doctors2.0 and You is THE international congress in Europe, in association with Stanford university and is focused on Social Media, Web2.0 and New Technology in medicine. Patients are included. Visit www.doctors20.com to learn more about how you can attend in 2015

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