October 04, 2012

Does Social Media Advance Medical Knowledge?

According to a recent paper, the answer is absolutely!

A survey was distributed via email to a random sample of 1695 practicing physicians in the United States in March 2011 with responses from 485 physicians (28.61%). Rather than rehashing what was said, I quote from the abstract,
Overall, 117 of 485 (24.1%) of respondents used social media daily or many times daily to scan or explore medical information, whereas 69 of 485 (14.2%) contributed new information via social media on a daily basis. On a weekly basis or more, 296 of 485 (61.0%) scanned and 223 of 485 (46.0%) contributed. In terms of attitudes toward the use of social media, 279 of 485 respondents (57.5%) perceived social media to be beneficial, engaging, and a good way to get current, high-quality information. In terms of usefulness, 281 of 485 (57.9%) of respondents stated that social media enabled them to care for patients more effectively, and 291 of 485 (60.0%) stated it improved the quality of patient care they delivered. 
I should mention that this study was brought to my attention via tweet by Dr. Ves, an allergist who is an active blogger and tweeter.

How medically efficient, relevant, and useful social media is to a practicing physician utterly depends on "who" physicians follow on the variety of social media platforms whether twitter, facebook, linkedin, or blog. Even videos on YouTube.

It also depends on the willingness of physicians to than share interesting medical information they found useful with others who than in turn share with others.

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects in getting started in medical social media is finding who to follow in the first place who is worth following for useful medical tidbits.

If you are new to medical social media, I would suggest the following to get started. I should also mention that twitter IS the best and most efficient way to get started learning from and sharing information.

KevinMD (Primary Care)
Dr. Ves (Allergist)
Dr. Wes (Cardiologist)
Skeptic Scalpel (General Surgery)

Of course, I should add myself to this list:

Fauquier ENT or Dr. Chris Chang (Otolaryngology)

Understanding the Factors That Influence the Adoption and Meaningful Use of Social Media by Physicians to Share Medical Information. J Med Internet Res 2012;14(5):e117
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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