Social Media and Disseminating Medical Information

I attended a one-day conference on Social Media yesterday.  It was really fascinating to see how many tools are out there to help measure, improve and monitor a social networking presence (for both persons and for companies).  I have previously mentioned that return on investment is not critical to my presence in social media.  However, this conference opened my eyes to the importance of this, and I now believe it should be absolutely taken into account, especially if one goal is to disseminate information, enhance communication and learn from others.
Some ask why I, as a medical educator physician, have become involved in Social Media.  My reasons have not changed.  I do it because physicians need a presence for social networking, since the majority of patients who use the internet are already looking for medical information online.  Physicians have an obligation to society to disseminate clear, succinct and truthful health care messages to combat online misinformation that is unfortunately too common; what better way than to use social networking to accomplish this?  Let’s meet our patients where they are, which is on social media.  Add to all of this the importance of role modeling the intersection of social media and medicine with learners, all the while maintaining a professional demeanor.
I gave a presentation on social media in medicine and medical education two days prior to this conference, as a Department of Pediatrics Grand Rounds.  This was my first formal scholarly presentation on this topic.  It was simply a blast to be able to present this information to my colleagues.  The conference was very well attended.  Some were skeptical, and a few probably remain skeptical.  Some came up to me later and in emails and asked “How can I get started in social media, for the betterment of my patient care?”  This was the biggest compliment of all (and bigger than more Twitter followers, in my opinion).  It demonstrates that people listen and are willing to learn and try new things, and want to put patient care first and foremost.
Here are a few examples of how social media and mobile technology have the potential to improve patient care:
What are your thoughts on using social media to help improve patient care?

[For those interested in the tweets during the Grand Rounds conference, please see the hashtag #IUPedsGrRounds, with the transcript available here.]


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