Before the popular use of the internet had I was giving patients at their antenatal first visit with me several pages of the most popular pregnancy questions and answers. This was motivated by a desire for my patients to have correct pregnancy knowledge, rather than relying on advice and information from family and friends, which was often incorrect.
When the internet came it was natural transition to do this online. My introduction to using the internet was to use it as a vehicle to provide educational material for my own patients.
With the increasing popularity of the internet and social media there were multiple sources of advice and information available online, much of which was provided by unqualified people. Often this online advice is inaccurate. If it was accurate and from a reputable medical source it could be difficult to assess and interpret by an unqualified pregnant woman. Online information often results in increased anxiety for the pregnant woman, particularly if they are prone to anxiety. I and midwives are finding there are far more anxious pregnant women today than in the past.
Today, the internet and social media provide me with platforms to provide my patients with accurate and easy to understand pregnancy and childbirth information.
The first step for me in using the internet for patient education was to contract a webmaster to build me a website for my medical practice. I wanted a practice website that was very professional in appearance and easy to navigate.
I have contracted Luke Beeton and his team at Sailor Studio to build (and rebuild) my practice website and to maintain it. They do an excellent job it in doing this. While there were significant initial and ongoing costs, it is well worth it.
I have personally written all the information on my website.
The website is now very comprehensive. Patients often tell me it is the best and most informative obstetric website.
Feedspot checks out obstetric websites for many countries. In their ‘Top 80 Obgyn Blogs and Websites’ Feb 18, 2022, my website, Obstetric Excellence, is listed as the 21st best obstetric website. There are no Australian obstetric websites more highly rated. Also, all more popular sites on their list are in USA, except 1 Indian blog site. Considering Goggle use of algorithms and bias so Google uses in USA, etc have limited access to website in Australia, and Australian Google users have limited access to USA website, being 21st on this American site listing is very exciting.
Feedspot also has listed the ‘Top 25 Australian Pregnancy Blogs and Websites’ from their review of thousands of blogs on the web ranked by traffic, social media followers, domain authority & freshness. My website, Obstetric Excellence, is listed 10. There is no other obstetrician website on their list. The only other ‘doctor’ website is an IVF site (IVF Australia) at position 21.
On my Obstetric Excellence website, I have information on many topics including…
- Pregnancy Care
- How to Contact Dr Sykes
- Your Pregnancy Journey
- What happens at antenatal visits
- Pregnancy Tests
- Labour and Delivery
- Caesarean Section
- Postnatal Visit
As well there are drop down folders on…
- FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) now has information on 94 pregnancy and childbirth topics.
- Resources has an extensive list of third partly recommended sites.
- The Blog has 214 posts on a variety of pregnancy and childbirth topics including many pregnancy and childbirth patient stories (published with patient permission).
Patient stories have been included because of their educational value. I ask a patient do I have permission to write the article. If she says “yes” then I do so and then send the article to her for checking and changes before posting. I also ask her for baby photos for inclusion.
My blog posts are view by many hundreds and sometimes thousands of people.
As the popularity of the internet and its platforms increased so did the opportunity to use other internet platforms for my patient education. I have been using social media sites…
YouTube. On my practice YouTube channel, I have 28 videos including 14 educational videos where I am presenting.
Google. Where I post updates and links to posts on my website.
I also post on Google (with patient permission) photos sent to me by grateful patients. Each month Google advises me there are more than 20,000 views of these photos.
I encourage patients at their postnatal visit to send through photos of their new babies. They often do. I love it, as it brings back such wonderful memories. These photos are only ever posted if I have patient permission, by reply email of Facebook messenger. The collection has grown. I think I have the largest collection of baby photos on the internet. All photos have been sent to me by grateful photos. I never take photos of patients’ babies myself.
Facebook. I have 2 Facebook pages.
- Personal page. This is not used by me for my personal matters, but is my practice friends page to communicate with patients by private messaging. I show this page to patients at their first antenatal visit and invite them to become friends. People who as not patients request to become friends and I decline their offers. I advise patients that Private Facebook messaging is very popular way of patients keeping in touch and asking question about pregnancy concerns. I now have well more than 1,000 Facebook friends on my practice Facebook personal site. I also post (with patient permission) photos sent to me by grateful patients and do some information updates and links to articles posted on my website. My personal Facebook site is followed by 278 people.
- Practice Obstetric Excellence page. This is a public site where I post (with patient permission) photos sent to me by grateful patients and information updates and links to articles posted on my website. I do not communicate with patients or others via the Obstetric Excellence page. My practice Obstetric Excellence Facebook page is followed by more than 2,000 people. In the last 28 days my Obstetric Excellence Facebook posts reached 13,820 people with 2,098 engagements.
Twitter I use this on occasions but have not found it helpful from a patient education perspective.
Instagram I use this for posting (with patient permission) photos sent to me by grateful patients. I have 458 followers.
Flickr I use this for posting (with patient permission) photos sent to me by grateful patients.
LinkedIn. While I have a LinkedIn account it has been on nu use in patient education or communication.
I am finding the internet is an extremely helpful patient education platform. I have always endeavoured to use it and social media correctly. I am always very careful about protecting patients’ privacy and only ever post articles about patients’ pregnancy stories or their baby photos with their permission.