Should Physicians mind their “Webside Manners”?

in Physician/Technology by

Approximately 87% of US adults are online. Of these, a huge 72% seek health information online. Trust for physicians remains high though as 70% of these adults would seek a healthcare professional’s help  for major medical conditions.

Contrast this trend with how many of physicians are taking advantage of information technology to provide healthcare information online or even clinical care from a distance.  A measly 3% of physicians engages patients online. Even if one in three US physicians use or is planning to use telemedicine, the actual usage of telemedicine by patients is lower though at about 9-15%.

What these statistics are saying is this: patients are going online for health information but our healthcare system is slow to adapt. The advantages of Telehealth and telemedicine especially for the archipelagic Philippines is pretty obvious but so are the staggering challenges.

How about Social Media?

Telemedicine is broadly defined as providing clinical care from a distance, using telecommunication and information technologies. Strictly speaking, social media isn’t part of telemedicine yet. Dr. Joseph Kim pointed out though that there’s a small (albeit increasing) percentage of doctors who use social media to provide health information and professional networking.

Extending Bedside Manners

The traditional physician-patient interaction in the clinical setting is governed by a set of attributes, behaviour or communication skills called “bedside manners”. Studies have shown that bedside manners ultimately affect delivery of care. The entry of information technology into actual patient-physician interaction clearly changes too the clinical setting. Perhaps this is an opportune moment for examining how effective a physician’s manners are in the light of information technology or maybe, we need to expand our concept of manners.

Webside Manners

The concept of webside manners came with the advent of telemedicine. While “bedside manners” pertains to how a healthcare professional interacts and communicates with a patient in a face to face encounter, webside manners probably refers to how the healthcare professional interacts or communicates with a patient over a medium (of information technology) to provide clinical care.

So lets talk about “webside manners” this Saturday November 26, 2016 at 9PM Manila time and determine whether it should be (or it should be not) part of our bedside manners:

  • T1. Does Telemedicine have a role in clinical care? How about Social Media?Why or why not?
  • T2. Should our bedside manners need extending, to include webside manners with the advent of information technologies like telemedicine or social media?
  • T3. What webside manners do you think are most needed?


Don’t forget to include hashtag #healthxph when joining the chat on Saturday at 9PM Manila time. See you!



Internet User Demographics

Health Online 2013

How Many Family Doctors are Using Telemedicine?

Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is Chief of Clinics at General Santos Medical Center and Medical Specialist II Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (