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Posts from the ‘twitter’ Category

The Social MEDia Course: Revolution in Medical Education NOW!

Social media is changing how medicine is practiced and healthcare is delivered. Patients, doctors, communication or even time management, everything is changing, except one thing: medical education. We need a revolution!

When a UK physician wanted to visit Hungary every week just to attend my university course focusing on social media and medicine, I decided it’s time to make this course global.

Today, The Social MEDia Course goes live with 16 flash Prezis, exciting tests, badges and achievements. Enjoy and have fun while learning! Medical students, physicians and even patients, everyone is welcome to take the course which is, of course, for free.

Here is a video about the course (and also a Prezi).

How Do You Cite a Tweet in a Peer-Reviewed Paper?

Do you remember when more and more medical professionals started blogging 5-6 years ago and the Modern Language Association published a guide about citing a blog? Now here is the new format for citing a tweet in an academic paper.

Begin the entry in the works-cited list with the author’s real name and, in parentheses, user name, if both are known and they differ. If only the user name is known, give it alone.

Next provide the entire text of the tweet in quotation marks, without changing the capitalization. Conclude the entry with the date and time of the message and the medium of publication (Tweet). For example:

Athar, Sohaib (ReallyVirtual). “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.

The date and time of a message on Twitter reflect the reader’s time zone. Readers in different time zones see different times and, possibly, dates on the same tweet. The date and time that were in effect for the writer of the tweet when it was transmitted are normally not known. Thus, the date and time displayed on Twitter are only approximate guides to the timing of a tweet.

Map of European Healthcare Professionals on Twitter

Yesterday, I wrote about a self-edited directory of European healthcare professionals on Twitter which was launched by Andrew Spong after I tweeted that I’m the only European doctor in the top 25 of the global list of doctors on Twitter. Now here is the interactive map version. This project is getting more and more attention and hopefully this movement will result in a very useful list of European medical professionals being active on Twitter.

Directory of European Doctors on Twitter

Yesterday, I tweeted that I’m the only European doctor in the top 25 of the global list of doctors on Twitter, but I know there are many European doctors using Twitter quite massively. Responding to my tweet, Andrew Spong launched a self-edited database or directory of European doctors (actually all healthcare professionals) on Twitter. Feel free to add yourself.

World’s First Live-Tweeted Open-Heart Surgery

This piece has been all around the news for the last couple of days, even if the phenomenon is not new at all. The Henry Ford Hospital performed the first live tweeting (sending short updates about the procedures on Twitter) years ago during an awake craniotomy. Then it seemed more and more healthcare institutions started doing the same.

Now the  Houston’s Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital did that during an open-heart surgery.

On Tuesday, Dr. Michael Macris performed a double-coronary artery bypass on a 57-year-old patient. Dr. Macris’ colleague, Dr. Paresh Patel, provided 140-character updates throughout the procedure and answered questions submitted by followers of the hospital’s @houstonhospital Twitter account.

Dr. Macris also wore a camera attached to his head, according to Texas Monthly, and Dr. Patel snapped additional photos.

Videos were also posted. Preparations:

I believe patients undergoing the same procedures later like this educational Twitter stream, doctors performing the same would also like it (at least because of the generated discussions) and the hospital certainly likes it as it brings them many new followers.

Are Twitter’s people ready and related to healthcare enough that such streams could become common?

A Rheumatologist’s View on Social Media: Interview

I start a new series of interviews with medical professionals and e-patients about how they use social media presented through practical examples and suggestions. I think it’s time to talk about the details and exact habits in social media instead of wondering whether it can be useful in medicine or not. I tell you it can be, if used with strategy, in a nutshell.

The Irish Rheumatologist and social media user, Dr. Ronan Kavanagh (blog & Twitter) accepted my invitation and we talked about these real examples from his own practice. Here is how a rheumatologist uses social media with amazing sites and solutions.

  • What social media channels do you use in your work and for what purposes?

I use Twitter as my primary source of medical and non-medical news and have one single identity there (as opposed to personal and professional). Twitter allows me instant access to streams of concise, relevant information from sources with similar interests to me that I can trust. It has also opened my eyes to exciting innovation taking place at the interface of medicine & technology and has allowed me to connect with other healthcare professionals, patient advocates researchers and talented innovative people. I also use Twitter to help spread information I glean from medical conferences. The act of distilling the essence of a paper into 140 characters knowing its going to be read by colleagues focuses the mind like nothing else!

I use Google reader to collate all of my rheumatology journals and interesting blogs, and have also used Google circles to present and discuss difficult cases with other medical colleagues. I use both Facebook (I have a personal account and a separate business page for my practice) and Youtube to share relevant rheumatology and health related information with my patients. I also use WordPress to publish a regular blog and use Twitter and Facebook Linkedin to distribute the blog. I use Slideshare to share presentations and am beginning to develop content content for medical student education using the online presentation tool, Prezi which you can share online. I also use Pinterest to share interesting stuff online but am uncertain how useful its going to be for me. Its hard to keep all of these portals running.

I also have a profile on Linkedin that has resulted in some interesting introductions (regarding writing and speaking invitations). On balance, and despite its rapid growth, I think it has relatively limited use for healthcare professionals in general.

I have also been experimenting with an exciting new service called Vsnap which allows users to send personalised short 1 minute video clips embedded within an email. I think it has some potential to communicate important information to patients and has significantly more impact than a text based email.

I am in the process of setting up a new Web2.0 website for my practice with a company called Symplur which will allow me to co-ordinate and harness the power of all all of these forms of social media together to educate my patients.

  • What do your patients think about social media? Do they use it?

Having well educated and motivated patients in my practice makes my life (and their lives) a lot easier and I have been increasingly using social media channels to facilitate that process. I undertook a survey of my patients this year and they are very active online. Despite the slightly older age demographic of my practice (median age 57 yrs), 72% of my patients have internet access. 70% of those without direct internet access had a family member who would use it on their behalf and over 80% have looked for health related information on line. 41% of my patients are on Facebook but very few (5.3%) are on Twitter. When I ask them directly about their online experience of searching for healthcare related information, many feel overwhelmed by the volume of information online and can be a little nervous about its provenance. The feedback I’ve had about my attempts to act as a curator of content has been very positive. I think patients need a reliable guide online and I see that as my role.

  • What social media sites do you think point towards the future of healthcare?

Howard Luks is an orthopaedic surgeon who is the leader and pathfinder for the best and most innovative ways for communicating to patients using social media. I really like Dr. Ves Dimov’s site especially his Allergy site. There’s a new doctors networking and collaboration site called Sermo which looks exciting (doctors can share clinical problems and get ‘curbside consults’ from other doctors). Unfortunately it is US only at present but there is another similar service called Medcrowd which has some promise. There’s a lot of talk about patient network community sites online ( but none of the patients surveyed in my practice have participated of joined any of them (its just a matter of time I think).

It is great to really good up to date collection of rheumatology related links (to journals, blogs, news links, video’s and slidesets) online and there’s really nothing else like it online at the moment. It is an invaluable resource for rheumatologists trying to find their way online and make the best of whats available.

I like the fully customizeable dynamic RSS page on Webcina a lot. I’m reasonably IT literate but still struggle a bit with RSS feeds and formatting them to look as I would like. This page allows you access to the live RSS feeds from all of the major rheumatology journals on one page and is fully customiseable so you can add or delete journals as you would like. Excellent idea.

For what do I use Twitter with 10,000 followers?

Yesterday, I passed the 10,000 follower milestone on Twitter. A follower asked me to share the reasons why I use Twitter and the also the ways how I use it. I would say there are 5 major reasons why I’ve been using it for long years.

  1. Crowdsourcing: Usually I have very specific and complicated questions either about a clinical problem or about social media. What do you do when you have such a question, but do not know who might have the answer? You spend time and efforts building a network and, build trust with the members of this network and then when you have a question, drop it into the network. My experience is that generally in a few minutes, I get my answer. That is how I use Twitter for crowdsourcing and how I used it once for crowdsourcing a diagnosis that generated an Al Jazeera interview and a New York Times report.
  2. Let the community filter news for me: That is another reason why I have been building this network for years. When I check my Twitter stream and also a few hashtags such as #hcsm #meded or #hitsm, I know I will come across that day’s most important news probably relevant and interesting for me. I don’t have to scroll over all my favourite sites, just check the Twitter stream.
  3. Share news: I myself post quite often about the news and articles related to social media and medicine. I help the community in this filtering process and try to find the best pieces of information for them. Otherwise, how could I expect them to do the same for me?
  4. Get in touch: Getting in touch with people from around the world takes time when you have many contacts and friends. Moreover, I believe the easiest way nowadays to contact conference organizers or editors of medical journals and companies is Twitter, this is a fast, but still very personal channel.
  5. Get feedback: I work on many projects so I need feedback. And as I know I have people in my network from a lot of areas with expertise and broad perspectives, I love getting feedback from them and fortunately I do get a lot.
There are certainly many other reasons why I use it, but these seem to be the most essential ones.

Let’s tweet in touch!

Further reading:

Time to prove medical crowdsourcing works: Please join! #medCR

I used Twitter for crowdsourcing for medical purposes several times when I was looking for a rare diagnosis and it always helped. Now I came across the blog post of a Swedish fashion blogger and mother who described his son’s condition and is looking for help, experts or patients from around the world who might have the solution for the kid’s problem. Based on the symptoms, it’s clear this is something rare and unique, but hopefully people who can help will comment on her post.

This is my son, Mio. He has barely been to school the last couple of months. And he has almost not played with his friends. Cause he is always sick. He’s got pain behind his right eye. Every day. Sometimes he vomits. I feel so sorry for him and feel powerless. What can I do? What’s wrong? How long will this last? Should we just accept that life does not work? And that he’s always in pain? And above all – is it something dangerous?

Dear friends on Twitter, use the #medCR hashtag to discuss the potential diagnoses.

Top Medical Social Media Stories of 2011: Month by Month

2011 was a very intense and exciting year regarding the developments and new insights of the relationship between medicine/healthcare and social media. Here are my favourite stories from 2011 selected and featured month by month.


I had the honour to be included in the Advisory Board of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media; I wrote about how a Samsung Galaxy Tab changed totally my online activities, how Google Translate can be used in medicine and featured HealCam, a medical alternative of ChatRoulette.


Facebook diagnosis by surgeon saved a friend; there was a lively discussion whether pharma companies can edit Wikipedia entries about their own products, it turned out Wikipedia can be a key tool for global public health promotion; and Scienceroll won the Best Medical Technology/Informatics Blog category for the third time in a row in the Medgadget’s Weblog Awards.


The new semester of the Internet in Medicine social media university course was launched, pregnant women could text their due date for free weekly advice during pregnancy on Push, Baby Push;  Webicina was featured by the Kairos Society on Wall Street,  UCSF Medical Center installed a robotic pharmacy in order to remove medication errors from the system; and here is my video message for Stanford about the importance of digital literacy in medical education.


Jay Parkinson summarized his story of being the first online doc, the Webicina iPhone app won the 2011 Medical App Awards; Al Jazeera called me Dr. Twitter after I described how Twitter can be used for medical crowdsourcing, and in the fight against AIDS a time lapse video of a woman with HIV/AIDS was published.


Blogger announced own death after battle with cancer which shocked people, then a woman managed to find a kidney donor through Twitter, The Social Life of Health Information Pew Internet report was released, and top doctors described how a medical professional should start using social media.


I co-authored a medical textbook about medical communication in social media; Google Health was announced to be closed, a cancer patient who blogged about his hospital treatment was threatened with legal action by an NHS trust; Doctors 2.0 and You was the event of the year; and here are some disasters in social media and what we should learn from them.


ePatient Dave rocked TED; Mayo Clinic launched an online community in a perfect way, Pfizer’s Facebook page got hacked and they reacted badly, I listed the reasons why I like Google+ even in medicine; mobile apps got regulated by the FDA; and it turned out iPhones can be used for obtaining ECG.


I published a story about how Twitter can be used to predict epidemics; even waiting rooms can be redesigned to improve healthcare; I described why I’m happy that patients use the web; started managing the social media presence of a huge medical portal; I stated what you write only is forever; and pharma had hard days because of comments on Facebook.


Using hashtags is crucial in medical communication on Twitter;  I talked about the future of health 2.0 in Europe; organized a virtual medical consultation in the virtual world on World Heart Day; this is how creativity can be used in healthcare; and I presented the best apps of a physician at the Doctors 2.0 and You conference.


Nobel winner died days before award announced; I shared a social media love story about a bone marrow donor; an app let us run figures on maps; Google+ was used for case presentations; and Mayo Clinic launched the Know Your Numbers campaign.


I published the 7 Features of the New Generation of Physicians; my open access success story; a summary about the Games for Health conference; hardcore campaigns about men’s health; and revealed why the most viewed medical video on Youtube got millions of hits.


Winners of the Webicina social media story contest were announced; WHO featured Webicina; the launch of a global medial social media course was announced; I described my time management tools and tips in medicine; the open access set of social media guidelines for and about pharma was published; and finally found the cutest story of 2011, parents got insulin-pump tattoos to support diabetic child.

I’m going to post my predictions for 2012 tomorrow and I hope you will stay with next year as well!

From DIY Diagnostic Tests to Mobile Health Competitions

In a letter published in the Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock, physicians in Scotland described the use of a webcam, Skype, and an iPhone 4 to connect a provider in Calgary to an expert over 200 miles away in Aberdeen for assistance in performing a pulmonary ultrasound.

The idea behind most diagnostic tests is simple: Identify a telltale chemical and look for it in a blood sample. The PSA test for prostate cancer is the best-known cancer diagnostic, but diagnostics exist for other cancers too — ovarian and colorectal to name a few. And while the tests are not infallible, they can help find hard-to-detect, early stage cancers and monitor treatment.

Dave deBronkart, “e-Patient Dave,” was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer in 2007. The median survival time for his condition was 24 weeks. Thanks to the help of an online network for patients with his disease, he quickly learned about treatment options and found support for his recovery. The treatment was successful, and now e-Patient Dave is cancer-free and has found a higher calling: empowering patients to have access to the best health care possible — by connecting with resources online.

eyeforpharma believes that the pharma industry must pay more attention to patient needs across the board, and that teen cancer patients are a great place to start. To this end, the organization is hosting its first annual Mobile Health Competition. The competition aims to highlight new and exciting mobile apps that help teen cancer patients better manage their conditions and improve their lives.

You cannot afford to take a “wait-and-see” approach or you may soon find yourself trying to catch up with competitors. Even if you do not currently have an active social media presence, your employees and customers are already using social media. Start now, start small and measure progress. Take precautions: develop a policy to govern your employees’ use of social media. Also use social media to monitor, enhance and protect your brand/reputation.


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