I’ve been a huge fan of the Quantified Self movement for many years, I’ve been logging my sleep, my activities, scores of physical and mental well-being for 15 years every single day. When I recently saw an article about a neuroscientist who is getting a brain scan twice every week for a year to see how neural networks behave over time, I knew we are getting into a new phase in this area.
Every day, he tracks his mood and mental state, what he ate, and how much time he spent outdoors. Twice a week, he gets his brain scanned in an MRI machine. And once a week, he has his blood drawn so that it can be analyzed for hormones and gene activity levels. Poldrack plans to gather a year’s worth of brain and body data to answer an unexplored question in the neuroscience community: how do brain networks behave and change over a year?
Moreover, according to mobile health and wellness sensor reports, in 2017, 515 million sensors for wearable, implantable or mobile health and fitness devices will be shipped globally, up from 107 million in 2012!
We can expect that in a few years’ time, patients will be able to measure everything about themselves from blood count and blood glucose content to ECG and even genomics data. Are medical professionals, payers and pharmaceutical companies ready for such a world?
Of course, not, but I’m trying to prepare them offline and online.
As a huge fan and supporter of e-patients who want to use digital technologies and the information they find online in their health management, I don’t like news articles speaking against them without explanations and data.
The healthcare social media community has been discussing a study that concluded patients who wanted to participate in medical decision making had higher bills. It might predict that e-patients will have higher bills as well. Let’s take a look at it:
Analyzing the data, the researchers found that nearly all — 96.3% — wanted to receive information about their illnesses and treatment options, but that only 28.9% said they had a strong preference for making their own decisions about their care.
Those patients had longer hospital stays, by about a quarter of a day on average, than patients who preferred let their doctors take the lead. They also had greater hospital costs ($865 more, on average.) By and large, people who were more likely to participate in medical decisions were better educated, and more likely to have private insurance coverage, than the rest of the patients who were surveyed.
You see? It says patients who had a strong preference for making their own decisions about their care. E-patients are partners with their doctors, not making medical decisions themselves alone. That’s the difference.
In the last 10 months, I’ve been working day and night to finish a book that could fill a huge gap regarding the practical use of social media in medicine and healthcare. Social Media in Clinical Practice was meant to introduce medical professionals to the digital world through real-life examples, suggestions and step-by-step instructions.
I’ve been teaching medical students and physicians about these topics for many years and they always came up with a final question: is there a practical book that could help us learn the meaningful use of social media? Now yes, there is!
I hope medical professionals will find it useful and e-patients will share it with their doctors.
Social media has been clearly changing the way medicine is practiced and healthcare is delivered. Medical professionals must be able to meet the special needs of technology-aware patients and use digital technologies in their work and communications properly. Each physician should find the tools that will assist them in their workflow, and patients need to be educated how to use the internet. It is the responsibility of medical professionals to contribute to this process. The constantly evolving digital world must be used in the practice of medicine to improve the care of patients. However, the only way to do so effectively is via evidence-based, meaningful and strategic use. Social Media in Clinical Practice provides practical guidance in this mission and is thus essential reading for all medical personal looking into approaching this for the first time.
Here is the table of contents:
- Social media is transforming medicine and healthcare
- Using medical search engines with a special focus on Google
- Being up-to-date in medicine
- Community sites Facebook, Google+ and medical social networks
- The world of e-patients
- Establishing a medical blog
- The role of Twitter and microblogging in medicine
- Collaboration online
- Wikipedia and Medical Wikis
- Organizing medical events in virtual environments
- Medical smartphone and tablet applications
- Use of social media by hospitals and medical practices
- Medical video and podcast
- Creating presentations and slideshows
- E-mails and privacy concerns
- Social bookmarking
When I wanted to include digital literacy in the medical curriculum, I worked really hard to get a chance for a pilot at a medical school with over 240 years of history. Now it has been running for 5 years. I teach medical students about the use of social media and how to deal with e-patients. Therefore when I came across and read the book, Let Patients Help, by E-Patient Dave, I knew this is what I was looking for.
I think we should make this book a must-read book in every medical school. To fulfill this huge mission, we need people working at medical schools who can work their way to the top and add it to the curriculum school by school.
If you work at a medical school or know someone who could help us, please let me know!
It was time for the FDA to step up and represent the very loud voice of e-patients as well. The FDA Patient Network was just launched to educate patients and advocates about FDA; recruit patients and advocates to serve in meetings and to speak at FDA events; and ensure that patients and advocates can express their concerns about FDA decisions. It’s a good first step.
We are the Patient Network, a part of the FDA. We work to bring the unique perspective of patients, family members, caregivers, and patient advocates to the decision-making processes of the FDA. Through the Patient Network, you can learn more about FDA and how it works, provide input in decisions about new or current medical products, and talk with FDA experts about issues and concerns that are important to you.
E-Patient Dave deBronkart, the leader of the health 2.0 movement, published an essay under the title, How the e-patient community helped save my life. This is a must read for every medical professional just like his recently published book.
In April 2009 I found myself on the front page of the Boston Globe.1 A mere cancer patient, I’d written a blog post about my medical record. The Globe’s reaction—on page 1—was my first glimpse of a big question: how can a patient say anything about medicine that’s worthy of attention?