The consultation room on social media: are we ready for it?
The consultation room on social media: are we ready for it?

Gabrielle Speijer, MD

ICT&health, 02/2022

The consultation room on social media: are we ready for it?

As a medical specialist, I see every patient contact as an opportunity to improve. It is an addictive sport to be able to tune in better and faster to the other person each time, because the faster and better I succeed in doing that, the higher the shared end result in terms of my patient’s health. A vlog from one of my patients not only proves this to me, but also serves other patients, who can relate to my very empathetic patient.

It was sometime in January when I was covering for one of my colleagues and a patient confided in me during an open conversation that she is a professional vlogger herself. “Is producing daily content for the YouTube channel something you’ll be comfortable with once this treatment is over?” I asked her almost immediately, as you are sharing the most vulnerable part of yourself with the whole world. For her, the choice was quickly made. Vlogging had now acquired an additional function: helping other patients by giving them a glimpse into her personal experience. How beautiful it is that I, as a doctor, can contribute to something like this. We have such a trusting relationship, because it takes something to be so vulnerable in this position! I am absolutely open to a patient who wants to help other patients!


After another consultation, I realize that we were so engrossed in our conversation that we didn’t even have a camera on the table. Later that day, my patient sends me a preview of what she tells her followers about the consultation with me. A beautiful eye-opener of how my words came across, what made the most impression, and how. I make a note of what I need to pay a little more attention to next time.

I also realize how well she translates the consultation from her experience and makes it visually accessible to a large audience. I wonder (again) what brochures and information booklets are actually good for. In my daily life, YouTube is my biggest help, whether it’s an issue with my car, a recipe for my rare culinary feats, or mental preparation (given my fear of heights) for a challenging mountain climb in the Dolomites.

Positive mindset

For my patient, the vlog is an ideal way to be able to watch it back on the couch at home and stay focused on what was really said. Because the temptation to become insecure about certain things between consultations is always lurking. How nice it is to hear those uplifting words again to hold on to. That’s so important for a positive mindset. However, a vlog in the clinic can also raise a series of questions. For example: is it normal for patients to get a glimpse into our practice? Should and can I actually prepare for a vlog? Is every piece of content suitable for a wider audience, and how does it help them? What does the environment look like, was everything tidy, were there no sensitive data of other patients nearby, is the explanation good enough, is the treatment the best?

In fact, these issues are always relevant. Strangely enough, when a video is involved, it can work as a reminder to sharpen things up.

Call to action

Just harnessing the power of social media enables me to simultaneously provide value to more patients. And direct feedback? Absolutely, there are plenty of comments posted under a video! This shows that you can only be proud that you provide quality care and that patients also experience it that way. Because what could be more valuable information than the unpolished and completely patient-driven insight into your practice? In any case, I have already learned so much more from this. Can’t we do this together? Or do we need more for this? Let me know!

About the author

Gabriëlle Speijer is a Radiation Oncologist at the Haga Hospital, founder of the healthcare innovation company CatalyzIT, HIMSS Future50 International HealthIT leader and member of the ICT&health editorial board.