Health Care Social Media Review #HCSM

Compiled By Sarah Sonies

Welcome to the latest edition of Health Care Social Media Review, where we highlight blog posts from health care thought leaders on social media best practices, resources, narrative experiences, case studies, and new communications tools. This week’s review focuses on the communities and dialogues that health care social media helps cultivate: creative thinking, engaging patients, and information-sharing.

Last Friday, most of the nation was glued simultaneously to their televisions and their Twitter feeds as Boston shut down while authorities launched a manhunt for the suspects in the Boston Marathon attack, sending residents into widespread lockdown and stopping day-to-day life completely. Ted Eytan, MD, was scheduled to attend Health Foo 2013 – a health “unconference” sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). While the event was rightfully cancelled due to the gravity of Friday’s situation, Ted and his peers – many of them already in transit – decided to meet on their own and explored the collaborative thinking (and tweeting) that happens when a conference goes “DIY”.

Social media is a powerful tool in times of crisis. “Thriving,” Boston Children’s Hospital’s pediatric health blog, features a post with advice on how to discuss these tragedies with children in ways to make them feel safe and secure. The post provided a resource for parents to have direct age-appropriate conversations with their children while providing comfort.

Social media also can drive robust patient engagement. Kevin R. Campbell, MD, highlights the significance of electronic communication between doctors and patients in the light of a Wall Street Journal article that addressed some controversy in this area due to privacy concerns.

In the drive for patient-centered care, there is substantial work in increasing transparency in the health care marketplace. Dr. Vivian S. Lee, Dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine, advocates that patient satisfaction is just as important in health care as in the consumer marketplace on her blog, Notes.  In 2008, the University of Utah launched the Exceptional Patient Experience initiative; Dr. Lee discusses how the university is entering into yet a new phase of transparency and patient satisfaction. David Williams of Health Business Blog adds that reviews of physicians are becoming increasingly important, and while there are some promising approaches in the market, no one has yet really nailed it.

Empowering patients to engage in their own health care takes engaged physicians. Bryan Vartabedian, curator of 33 Charts and a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, has a post from early April sharing tips for encouraging doctors to contribute and share on hospital and medical school blogs.

A specific understanding of one’s digital footprint is to ensure that future doctors navigate the digital world safely and appropriately. Dr. Rajiv Singal, Head of Urology at Toronto East General Hospital, will be moderating a #hcsmca Twitter Chat on Wednesday, April 29 at 9 PM ET, using this post by Dr. Vartabedian as the inspiration.

Many medical students have taken to blogging as an outlet for their thoughts on their curriculum, clinical care, and #meded in general. David Steinhardt, a first-year medical student at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), writes on OHSU’s med student blog, “Student Speak,” about finding ways to negate the “tunnel vision”  med students often find themselves slipping into by cycling focus between their “books and the clinic.”

David Harlowe at Health Blawg shares the main points of the policy statement on online medical professionalism released this month by the American College of Physicians and Federation of State Medical Boards. Takeaways include how online media can bring significant educational benefits to patients and physicians, but is not without its ethical challenges given the far reaches of the Internet—bringing us back to the idea of the digital footprint.

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