The dos and don'ts of orthopedic surgeons on TikTok

Practice Management

Social media can be an excellent tool to engage current patients and attract future ones, particularly for early-career surgeons building their patient base.

TikTok is the latest platform to which physicians are flocking, creating informative and engaging content to connect with other providers and educate patients about conditions, treatment options and technology trends in their field.

A spine surgeon and a total joint surgeon spoke to Becker's about their success on TikTok and shared advice on how other physicians can do the same.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for style and clarity.

Matthew Harb, MD. The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics (Bethesda, Md.): The hardest step of social media … and I'm not going to say it's hard because it's really not actually that difficult, but it's this mental barrier that you have to overcome of turning the camera around and filming yourself saying something and then posting it online. Most people don't like to hear their voice or see their own face on camera, but the easiest thing is you start out slow. You can start with some educational content, record a 15-second video talking about a diagnosis and a pathology. You gotta start somewhere and start posting a couple videos and it'll grow from there. It's not an instant overnight process that happens, but you gotta start from somewhere and the easiest way is just by posting a video or a picture.

Chester Donnally, MD. Texas Spine Consultants (Addison): First of all, you have to make sure you're compliant and have patients sign waivers. Whenever I post something, the patients are almost always three to six months out of surgery. One recommendation I have for surgeons is avoid posting MRI images from post-op day one or even a couple of weeks after surgery for multiple reasons. Can you imagine how bad it would be if you posted your fluoroscopic images one day after surgery and the patient had a complication? Also, anyone can have pretty intra-op images, but it's the post-op outcomes that should be shared if using newer techniques. Showing an intra-op X-ray of a single-position surgery is neat, but proving the patient did well with three- to six-month post-op images and a signed consent is more powerful and more truthful. 

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