You know him as the host of CBS show, The Doctors—Dr. Travis Stork. I sat down with Dr. Stork and he shared with me, his top five explanations for how technology has impacted the medical profession, as well as the online and entertainment space.
#1 – Point of Care Has Evolved
Andrew Rossow: How has the utilization of new, emerging technology impacted the medical profession in your experience?
Dr. Travis Stork: It has affected the profession so much since when I began. It’s hard to believe that when I started, there was no such thing as a smartphone or the ability to look things up at the point of care. Compared to when I saw my first patient as a medical student, there’s so much more readily available information to doctors and healthcare providers.
Rossow: In your opinion, what has been the most significant change to the profession?
Dr. Stork: The biggest thing for me has been the growth of electronic medical records (“EMR”). With that comes both the good and the bad. The way we operate as physicians has changed so much. With so much data available, oftentimes it feels that when someone calls us “doc;” what they are referring to is us as “documentors.” It certainly has benefit but it can also adversely affect the amount of quality time with patients.
Having said that, new technology is changing the way we practice in so many great ways. In emergency medicine, for instance, ultrasound has changed in the way we diagnose things as compared to when I started. And now you can use an ultrasound app on your smartphone to perform ultrasounds almost anywhere, including in remote areas where an ultrasound a few years ago would have been unthinkable.
#2 –Balancing Social Media With Mental Health
Rossow: How does social media come into play as a physician?
Dr. Stork: Although there aren’t enough hours in the day, from a physician’s perspective, I really enjoy social media as a method to stay up to date and to consume information in the world of medicine. I’m able to follow various online medical journals and posts my peers create and share.
Rossow: For over ten years now, you’ve been the TV host for the CBS show, “The Doctors.” What benefits does social media bring to this space?
Dr. Stork: I have a unique perspective here, because as a TV host, I’m able to follow a lot of the lifestyle and healthy living elements and fads that are out there. I’m able to directly understand what viewers are seeing on social media.
Rossow: How does technology help bring mental health issues to light?
Dr. Stork: Let me focus on the medical profession on this one. The medical profession deals with high rates of depression and suicide. In the past, doctors may not know where to turn. But now there are some good social media sites where physicians can share stories about their lives and motivate one another to maintain optimism and compassion during difficult times. It’s a really nice sounding board for physicians out there looking to connect with other like-minded individuals going through similar struggles.
#3 –Using Social Media To Connect Directly With Patients Is A ‘Thorny Area’
Rossow: How do you feel about doctor’s and other health care professionals interacting with patients online through social media?
Dr. Stork: As far as physicians utilizing social media and interacting directly with patients, it is a really thorny area. That’s where things can get troublesome, because you can be a doctor and a social media star, but at the end of the day, being good on social media doesn’t mean you’re a good doctor or offering good advice.
Rossow: Let’s turn to the individual patient’s perspective. How does social media affect their mental health, based off your experience?
Dr. Stork: If I’ve learned one thing in my career, it’s all about balance. Social media is like everything else in life—if you use it in balance, it can give people the opportunity to engage with others, and express yourself in a way that provides a form of stress-relief. But I’ve seen one major issue with social media come up time and time again—the addictive nature of it. Social media can take over someone’s life and it can really affect someone’s psyche, leading to depression, an unhealthy body image, and lower the individual’s self-esteem.
Rossow: What advice do you have for those individuals who may suffer from mental health issues, but actively use social media?
Dr. Stork: Use social media but don’t overdo it and don’t forget that humans are meant to interact directly with others. We need to be especially careful when it comes to kids and teenagers. Social media can build up momentum on certain topics that can lead susceptible individuals down a really dark path.
#4 –We All Have Faced Online Trolling and ‘Cyberbullying’ At Some Point
Rossow: As a TV host and a professional doctor, have you had any experience dealing with cyberbullying or online trolling in the industry?
Dr Stork: As much as I want to admit I am personally immune to certain comments people post on social media, I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t affect me when I see a mean-spirited comment. That’s one of the major reasons I’m not overly active on social media. As a professional doctor and TV host, my job is to inspire and provide accurate, useful information to viewers and patients. Not everyone appreciates opinions and if people don’t agree with your opinions, they can say some really hurtful things on social media.
Rossow: What tips do you have for other who have been subject to various forms of online trolling?
Dr. Stork: My advice is if it bothers you, don’t read the comments. If you are reading the comments with an open mind and thinking critically, especially with hot issues, you can’t allow that to affect you.
#5 –Speaking To Millions of People All At Once Is Thrilling
Rossow: What would you say has been the most exciting part of hosting The Doctor’s for you after ten years?
Dr. Stork: The most thrilling part has been the number of people who have positively transformed their health.
For me, that’s the most thrilling part about having a platform that can speak to millions of people at once. It’s a great gift, but one I also take seriously. Because the last thing you want to do is misinform or mislead individuals. It’s been a real joy to spread the message of good health. ‘Healthcare’ has developed this negative connotation in our society. I want to put the ‘health’ back into healthcare. The one thing I teach people: If you can become the CEO of your own health, and do a great job preventing problems before they start, then you’re doing yourself a great favor in the long run.