Kent Bottles, MD – the MDigitalLife Interview

Posted by: in Healthcare Insights, MDigitalLife, Medical Communications on May 23, 2012

#MDigitalLife is a WCG program designed to learn from and to showcase physicians who are blazing new trails in the digital world – changing the way that medicine is practiced and better health is realized.  You can find previous posts here.

For the American health care system to deliver evidence-based, low cost, and high quality medical care will require that all of us change the way we do things … we have a lot more work to do to change the culture of American medicine.

Kent Bottles, MD – Senior Fellow, Thomas Jefferson University School of Population Health,  Information Flâneur, and many more titles (see below).  Excerpted from Hospitals Should Learn from Hotels (Published on Kent Bottles Private Views on March 23, 2012)

Because I’m lazy, and because Dr. Bottles isn’t the kind of fellow who likes to rub his credentials in your face, I’m going to lift – verbatim – the bio that was used at one of his (frequent) recent speaking engagements – at the New York Medical College’s Student Physician Awareness Day (Theme: Social Media and Medicine.  Speakers Lineup: To die for.  Hate that I wasn’t there.):

“Dr. Bottles is a Senior Fellow at The Thomas Jefferson University School of Population Health in Philadelphia. He has been a Professor and Chair of academic medical school pathology departments, a Chief Medical Officer of a state-wide integrated delivery system, a President and CEO and DIO of an educational and research collaborative in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a President and CEO of an evidence-based medicine health care consortium in Minneapolis, and a President and Chief Knowledge Officer of a genomics bio-tech start-up company in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Dr. Bottles has been called upon to facilitate board retreats and give keynotes on disruptive technologies, digital medicine, social media, the effect of the PPACA on medical groups and hospital systems, the future of medicine, the future of medical education, how to engage physicians in clinical quality and health information technology programs, and payment reform. He currently serves on advisory boards for biotech companies and the social media advisory board for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Dr. Bottles has received the following awards and honors: Phi Beta Kappa, The Rodney T. West Literary Achievement Award for the most important article on medical management in 2001 from the American College of Physician Executives, the Resident Teacher of the Year Award from the University of Iowa Department of Pathology, the UC San Francisco Class of 1991 Certificate of Distinction in Teaching for a Major Contribution, the UC San Francisco Class of 1990 Certificate of Distinction in Teaching for a Stimulating Lecture Series, and the Henry J. Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching at UC San Francisco for Basic Science.”


I’ve been following Dr. Bottles’ work for some time, so I was incredibly grateful that he’d agree to do a little bit of Q&A with me on the subject of social media medicine.  And because following Dr. Bottles could easily be a full-time job, I’ve elected to sprinkle in some additional pieces both by and about him.  Get ready to enjoy.

MDigitalLife: When you use social media, who’s your audience and what’s your purpose?
Dr. Bottles: I use social media to make sense of the world I live in.  By curating articles and white papers and videos, I am able to catalog and retrieve information that helps me grow. I have been rather surprised that more than 6000 people from all over the world follow me on twitter and find what I write and curate useful.  The blogs I write tend to be long (2,000 to 3,000 words) and are my attempt to understand life.  I usually rely heavily on the material that I capture by following more than 1000 people on twitter and by reading everything I can get my hands and eyes on.  To be honest with you, I rarely think about my audience.  I have embraced the concept of being an information flaneur who wanders around trying to make sense of a terribly confusing and baffling world by looking for things that he does not know he is looking for.  My blog post on the subject contains some links to others who have expanded my idea of an ideal information flaneur (


MDigitalLife: What is your most effective channel?
Dr. Bottles:I use twitter and blogs.  Twitter is my way of keeping up with what is happening in my community, and blogs are my way of thinking about and reflecting on what is happening in my life.  I am appreciative that blogs like The Healthcare Blog, The DoctorWeighsIn, CareandCost, Kevinmd, and WingofZock repost my blogs so that more people read them.


MDigitalLife: What do you want the doctors of the future to know about the future of doctoring? Dr. Bottles: Dr. Eric Topol in The Creative Destruction of Medicine has described the convergence of genomics, wireless sensors, digital imaging technology, social networking, mobile connectivity and bandwidth, and smartphones that will inevitably lead to the creative destruction of current health care practices and the emergence of a new digital medicine.  He identifies physician culture and education as two key barriers to the necessary development of digital doctors.  I would hope that physicians would help create a new paradigm that would take advantage of these disruptive tools to better take care of their patients.

I recently spoke at Einstein College of Medicine and the New York Medical College about the use of social media in undergraduate and graduate medical education, and I used social media to crowdsource best practices from all over the world.  By asking for help on twitter, my community of practice responded with great examples of journal clubs on twitter and medical students and residents using blogs to reflect on their emotional and professional development during training.  My presentations were much more informative because they represented my entire social media community’s experience, not just my individual experience. Interviews with me and my fellow keynoter Dr. Katherine Chretien can be viewed here:

The other area that I think doctors need to incorporate into their practice of medicine is artificial intelligence and sociable humanoid robots.  Most physicians are not aware of how advanced this field is becoming and how much it will impact the care of patients.  This blog post has some links to articles that are a good introduction to this subject: This video ( was made in Las Vegas where I spoke to a group about the emerging technologies and the future of medicine.


“No matter how bright you are, you’re always better informed by reaching out for help.”

While he cautioned against falling for social media “hype,” he explained that, “Doctors should become familiar with social media because of these resources’ ability to engage, inform and galvanize.”

Kent Bottles, MD – as quoted in Social Media: Promise and Pitfalls for Doctors by The Doctors’ Tablet editors Paul Moniz and David Flores on April 5, 2012


MDigitalLife: Are there absolute do’s and don’ts in social media that you’d be willing to share?
Dr. Bottles: Don’t do anything stupid on social media and remember it is permanent and reflective of your reputation and character. [Note: Dr. Bottles’ recap of the SPAD event discusses this in more detail about halfway down.]


MDitigitalLife: I have lots more questions.  Hundreds in fact.  What about patients?  Online communities? What about your colleagues – do they think you’re nuts for blogging and tweeting?  I need answers!!
Dr. Bottles: I don’t see patients anymore as I am old.  I don’t participate in online communities except for my twitter community.  Most of my colleagues think I am crazy to waste my time on social media. I disagree with them.


Closing Notes:

As I prepared for this piece, I’ve had a blast getting to know Dr. Bottles and his work – which is prolific and across many channels.  He’s also got a ton of different interests; his series of YouTube videos on the future of healthcare, for example, is fantastic. [In his self-deprecating way, he told me that he’d forgotten all about that series.  But then again; he’s old.  He said so himself just a minute ago. ;-)]

You can get to know him too – and I have no doubt that as you do, you’ll join his growing legion of fans.

Dr. Bottles’ Web Site:

His Blog: Kent Bottles Private Views

Twitter: @KentBottles

YouTube: Kent Bottles, MD

Facebook: Kent Bottles, MD


And – pay attention to this – A sampling of the docs and other “health people” [my words] who Dr. Bottles reads regularly and recommends:

Aaron Stupple: @astupple

Robert West: @westr

Brian McGowan: @BrianSMcGowan

Neil Mehta: @Neil_Mehta

Katherine Chretien: @MotherinMed

Wendy Sue Swanson: @SeattleMamaDoc

Anne Marie Cunningham: @amcunningham

Howard Luks: @hjluks

Ted Eytan: @tedeytan

Nick Bennett: @peds_id_doc

Vinny Arora: @FutureDocs

Wen Dombrowski: @Healthcarewen

Charles Webster: @EHRworkflow

Michael Moore: @michaelbmoore

Ronan Kavanagh: @RonanTKavanagh

Nick van Terheyden: @drnic1

Mike Painter: @paintmd

Elaine Schattner: @ElaineSchattner

Mark Brown: @consultdoc


By: Greg Matthews

Greg Matthews is the the creator and Managing Director of the W2O Group's MDigitalLife - Understanding, Engaging and Activating Physicians in the Digital Age

Find me on: Twitter
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6 Responses

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  1. Nice piece – sadly he is right most of our colleagues think #hcsm is a waste of time but I’m with Kent – this technology (and others) will play a key central role in our future healthcare delivery system

  2. Thanks for reading – and writing, Nick! Another early-adopter in this space (whom I’ll not name) told me earlier this year that, “the same people who were laughing at me two years ago are now lined up outside my door to learn how I’m doing all of this.” I believe that we’re going to see an accelerated adoption from here …

  3. I enjoyed this article. I feel both our physicians, and society have started to become more aware of social media. Those who do not, will be behind with not only the future of medicine, but also with the demands of patients, eager to have options for healthier living. You mention twitter, and a blog but missing a future in live, taped, and social media that will become more advanced within the social media circle. I would hope to see you look more into how google+ is expanding their health education, and an education tool for both marketing for physicians, as well as direct live interactions between both medical professionals, and the general population.
    I will be conducting my own google+ live hangout, with many well known physicians, scientists, and some not well known within a month. I hope you will be able to observe or even participate. If not you will be able to view later the taped session on you tube.
    Thank you again for this wonderful article. 🙂
    google+ name is Diane Cobb is my blog.
    Looking for more future articles from you! Very nice. 🙂

  4. Thanks so much for writing, Diane! I’m eager to hear more about what you’re doing with Google+; feel free to share details via email or twitter.

  5. Nice work getting your arms around Dr. Bottles’ work. It’s hard to describe the impact and import about information flaneur’s. It’s a pet theory of mine that the widely knowledgable commentator is more valuable today than ever before. Kent Bottles typifies that value- I only wish I had more time to consume his output.

    When there’s new stuff on the way, we need information flaneurs to provide sensemaking, the process that Don Berwick thinks is essential to healthcare

    From his Escape Fire talk:

    Thanks for this interview!


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